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The government is being urged to increase investment in long-running Covid research after it was warned patients are suffering a ‘postcode lottery’ in care. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the problem would exacerbate health inequalities.

Delegates to the RCN’s annual congress in Glasgow will hear on Tuesday that diagnosis and treatment vary hugely across the UK.

Long Covid is treated by some clinics as a physical condition but primarily as a psychological condition by others, and existing services are woefully insufficient to meet the level of demand, according to the RCN. The latest official data estimates that two million people suffer from self-declared long Covid.

The RCN is calling on the government to dramatically increase investment in research and care to ensure patients are treated fairly across the UK to prevent harmful health inequalities from being exacerbated. The MRC said it also wanted nursing expertise to be used more widely to treat the disease.

The College said that when nurses are used in Covid long-term care, they play a central role in managing patient care and dealing with chronic symptoms.

Helen Donovan, professional head of public health at the RCN, said: “As nurses, we see firsthand how life-limiting Covid can be, especially when patients are suffering from complex chronic symptoms. such as fatigue, joint pain and brain fog. With more than two million sufferers, there are not enough specialist services to meet the growing demand, and the help patients receive varies enormously across the country.

“What is clear is that nurses’ understanding of managing long-term conditions, including pain management, is not being used effectively. Ministers must dramatically increase investment in long-term Covid research and support to ensure there are enough services and that they are consistent across the UK.

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