A new study published by the University of Birmingham recently (09/01/24) analyzed over 950,000 electronic health records in the UK and estimated that long COVID is costing at least an additional £23 million per year in GP and primary care consultations. This highlights the significant economic burden long COVID is placing on healthcare systems.
The analysis calculated the extra cost per long COVID patient is £2.44 for any consultation beyond 12 weeks after initial COVID-19 infection. For those diagnosed with long COVID, the cost is £30 per patient, rising to £57 for those with ongoing symptoms.
The costs were higher for groups like older patients, women, white patients, those with obesity, and those with pre-existing conditions. This suggests care needs and access vary across different demographics. Long COVID remains underdiagnosed so costs are likely even higher.
The increased costs represent only part of the total rise in healthcare resources needed to support long COVID patients. The condition is still poorly understood and underdiagnosed. More clinic time and resources are likely required for patients without a formal diagnosis.
In summary, this study provides an initial estimate of the significant economic impact of long COVID on primary care services. More research is needed, but the findings underscore the importance of planning for long COVID costs in future pandemic preparedness. Improved diagnosis and care pathways will also be essential.
You can read an article about the study here.