The Health Secretary must take urgent action to end the “betrayal” of long Covid sufferers started by his predecessor, Scottish Labour has said.
The party’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said thousands of sufferers are living a “precarious existence” and risk being forgotten about by the Scottish Government if action is not taken.
An estimated 172,000 people in Scotland are reported to be living with long Covid and many are unable to work due to the condition.
Scottish Labour said the Scottish Government has failed to match the level of support given to tackle the condition south of the border.
It said that while the SNP Government has promised to deliver a £10 million long Covid support fund over the next three years, NHS England has dedicated £224 million to support the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of people with the condition – with £90 million of this allocated in 2022/23.
Scottish Labour claimed this would have produced £21.7 million in Barnett consequentials for Scotland.
Ms Baillie urged Michael Matheson, who replaced First Minster Humza Yousaf as Health Secretary, to take action.
She said: “Thanks to the disastrous decisions of the previous Health Secretary, thousands of Scots living with long Covid are living in pain or being forced to go private.
“Thousands of those with long Covid are unable to work and are living a precarious existence without the help they need and deserve.
“It is simply shocking that this SNP Government has failed time and time again to do right by those with long Covid and deliver the long-term funding that long Covid treatment needs.
“Michael Matheson is not to blame for this betrayal but he is now responsible for putting it right.
“If action is not taken now, long Covid sufferers risk falling off the radar and being forgotten about by this Government.
“Today I urge Mr Matheson – do right by those in need and end this betrayal.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government recognises the significant impact that long Covid can have on the health and wellbeing of those most severely affected across Scotland.
“We are making available £3 million from our £10 million long Covid support fund over this financial year to support NHS boards to increase the capacity of existing services supporting those with the condition, develop these into more clearly defined local pathways and provide a more co-ordinated experience for those accessing support.
“This is in addition to what our healthcare system is already delivering in caring for people with long Covid across our full range of NHS services.
“Our 2023/24 Scottish Budget delivers record funding of more than £19 billion for the health portfolio, providing new investment of more than £1 billion and supporting recovery and reform to secure sustainable public services.
“We welcome the committee’s consideration of this very important issue and will consider the report and its recommendations in full.”
The Government also disputed Labour’s claims on Barnett consequentials.
A spokesman said: “It is simply not true that the Scottish Government received any consequentials from the £224 million NHS England allocated for Long Covid as this was not new funding.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub