NHS England has announced a £10m investment in a network of clinics offering specialist support for long COVID, as new research shows one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms.

The new assessment centre sites will receive referrals from GPs for individuals who are experiencing long-term symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection – including anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and more.

The NHS will provide £10m to the network of clinics, with 69 sites currently operating across the country.

The clinics will offer help from a multidisciplinary team, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists who will offer both physical and psychological assessments.

These healthcare professional may also refer patients to the correct treatment and rehabilitation services following initial assessment.

“The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus,” said Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS.

“Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of long COVID and its debilitating symptoms,” he added.

Ten of these sites are now operation in London, with seven in the East of England, eight in the Midlands, South East and Southwest respectively, nine in the North West and further 18 across the North East and Yorkshire now offering support.

In addition, another 12 sits are set to launch in January across the East Midlands, Lancashire, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight.

The UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has also announced new official guidance for clinicians to recognise, investigate and rehabilitate patients suffering with long COVID.

This new guidance identifies a range of potential symptoms of long COVID, with NICE adding that the symptoms following acute COVID-19 infection are ‘highly variable’ and ‘wide ranging’.

NICE also identified that there is currently no long-term evidence to help determine how long the ongoing effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection will last.