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NEWS ROUNDUP: Long Covid phone app launch


01/06/21 | Leeds local news | People with long covid could be monitored with the aid of a ground-breaking mobile phone app and clinical web portal.

It has been developed to help NHS rehabilitation teams manage the large number of people suffering from the debilitating effects of the illness. Patients will also be able to use the app to track their recovery.

The app will initially be available to patients in 27 NHS Trusts, including the Salford Royal, Pennine Acute Hospitals, Liverpool University Hospitals, Airedale and Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trusts - and the app provider is in advance discussion with several others. The public will not have direct access to the app - instead, patients will be invited to download it by their doctor or a member of their rehabilitation team.

Developed in a partnership between the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trusts, and the digital health company ELAROS, the app will enable patients to self-report their symptoms and the impact they have on daily living.

The first hospitals to use the system have gone live with it today (June 1).

Long covid refers to persistent symptoms that last for four weeks or longer after contracting covid-19, and include breathlessness, fatigue, brain fog, psychological distress, pain, and a general decline in quality of life.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that during four weeks in February and March, more than one million people in the UK were experiencing long covid - 674,000 said the condition was adversely affecting their day-to-day activities. Of those, around 697,000 people had experienced symptoms for at least 12 weeks.

Approximately, 70,000 had been ill for a year.

The information that a patient puts onto the app will be stored on a secure and confidential database which can be accessed by the NHS team involved in their care, to monitor their progress and to evaluate treatment options.

Dr Manoj Sivan, Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds and Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospital and Community Healthcare NHS trusts, is the lead academic in the project.

He said: “Long covid is a new condition, and it is causing long-term health problems for many patients. Given the scale of the problem, it is likely to strain healthcare services and burden the economy. We need efficient systems to manage the growing caseload and to standardise care across the NHS.

“The app and associated web portal will allow healthcare staff to rapidly assess and triage patients. Patients and families can also see their progression and their response to treatments.”

Assessment of long covid symptoms  

The app takes the patient through a series of questions to record their health status before contracting covid, and what it is now. The information is displayed in two radar plots: one showing the severity of symptoms and how those symptoms may be impacting on their ability to perform daily activities, their level of functional disability.

Patients will be asked to regularly update the app and over time, the radar plots will show what progress they are making towards recovering their health.

Jenny Davison, Physiotherapist and Long Covid Rehabilitation Service Coordinator with Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, said: "A Patient will be able to update the app at different stages in their recovery – and it will show them and their clinician how they are improving and what areas might need more targeted input.

“It provides an excellent visual demonstration of the data in graph format for patient to see at a glance the improvements they have made."

Professor Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of ELAROS, said: “The digital nature of the system will allow us to rapidly improve the clinical tool in partnership with healthcare professionals as we learn more about the condition. Our aim is to help healthcare teams provide the most effective support for patients recovering from long covid."

“This is a not-for-profit initiative for all NHS organisations as part of ELAROS' contribution to the national effort to tackle Covid.”

App uses the latest scientific research

The app uses a version of the COVID-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale (C19-YRS), a questionnaire developed by Dr Sivan and his team during the first wave of the pandemic to aid the diagnosis and assessment of long covid symptoms.

C19-YRS is now widely used across the NHS and has been recommended for routine use by NHS England in their national guidance for post-covid syndrome assessment clinics. Guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence also support its use for comprehensive assessment of patients.

If a patient agrees, their responses recorded on the app can be shared with accredited research institutions, but personal details will be removed.



A thrill-seeking 73-year-old who has been skydiving for half a century says he will keep jumping out of planes for the "sheer thrill of it" - until his body "gives up" on him.

Sprightly Bill Rule "fell in love" with the sport way back in 1971 when he was a young soldier serving in Holland and he saw foreign troops flying through the sky.

Within a matter of weeks, the budding serviceman had signed up to do a jump of his own and, speaking now, Tony says he was "hooked" almost immediately.

Since then the dad-of-two has completed more than 1,400 dives and last month he completed an impressive jump almost exactly 50 years to the day since his first-ever.

Tony, from York, North Yorks., plunged from 3,500ft and miraculously managed to land only three centimetres from the centre of a two centimetre yellow dot he was aiming for.

He said: "People think skydiving is a young man's game but look at me, I'm still having a great time at 73. I certainly have no plans to stop.

"It's the most exhilarating and exciting experience imaginable. You get full of adrenaline and it feels great. It's very hard to put into words exactly how it feels.

"Skydiving is something I have enjoyed almost all my life now and I hope to continue for as long as possible."

Bill, a widower, fell in love with skydiving in 1971 just after joining the army and being posted to Holland to serve with the Allied Air Forces Central Europe.

He said: "One of the people in the Dutch military was skydiving and said to me, 'do you want to come and watch?'

"I went along and fell in love with the sport there and then, I was absolutely enthralled by what I was seeing, I found it incredibly exciting."

Afterwards, the Dutch soldiers who ran a skydiving club invited Bill along to do some training. Within no time at all, he was up in a plane with them preparing to jump.

He said: "For me, it took two jumps to get well and truly hooked.

"On the first jump, everything was so quick and unfamiliar that I didn't really know what was happening.

"But on the second one shortly afterwards I remember the adrenaline really kicking in and being able to enjoy the experience."

After leaving Holland in 1973 Bill continued skydiving and eventually earned a place on the Royal Army Ordnance Corps parachute display team.

One of his greatest memories is jumping into Berlin's Olympic Stadium in 1979 alongside the iconic Red Arrows, which can be seen in an old photo.

He said: "That was definitely a special one."

Another particularly unusual jump came in 1982 during the Falklands War, when Tony, who was on a six month tour, landed on top of a ship just off Port Stanley.

After retiring from the army in the 1980s Bill helped run his own skydiving centre for around 20 years and nowadays he attends Skydive GB Parachute Club near York every week.

He competes in something called 'classic accuracy', where jumpers must aim to land on, or as close as possible to, the centre of a target.

Bill said he wants his own skydiving experiences at the age of 73 to encourage others.

He added: "There is no age limit on skydiving, people might think it's a young man's sport but it's not.

"I'd absolutely encourage people to give it a go, there's nothing like it."

In the meantime, Bill has no intentions to knock his favourite hobby on the head anytime soon.

He said: "I'll keep going until my body gives up on me or I'm not here anymore."

Later this year Bill hopes to compete at the national championships, with a view to potentially appearing at the world championships in 2022.

He said: "It won't be easy but that would be wonderful."

(SWNS | Barnaby Kellaway)

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