Today, the Office for National Statistics confirmed that 100,000 Scots are living with long Covid. However, an answer to a parliamentary question that I received last week said—astonishingly—that fewer than 1 per cent of those people have been referred to Scotland’s long Covid support service, which is the principal Government-funded service for long Covid sufferers. I know that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, which delivers that service, is desperate to help more sufferers, but the Government has yet to instruct the care pathways that will see people referred to it. Will the First Minister intervene and sort that out?
There is no need to intervene, because that work is being taken forward. People with long Covid will be receiving support at different levels and in different parts of the national health service—for example, many people will be receiving support from their general practitioner. It is right that support is provided on a holistic basis.
On additional action, the £10 million long Covid support fund is targeted specifically at areas where additional resource is needed and where it can have the biggest impact for people who need additional care and support. The NHS national services division is currently establishing a strategic network to help to identify those areas and to support the delivery of the framework that we outlined in the approach paper that we published recently. We have also launched a long Covid information platform on NHS Inform to help people to manage their symptoms and to help to ensure that people know about the support that is available to them.
We will need to continue to develop that approach for a long time, given the nature of long Covid, and to look at different ways—obviously, first and foremost, within the national health service, but also outwith it—that people with long Covid can be properly supported.