A student stuck down with long Covid has slammed the Scottish government’s handling of the condition – saying sufferers “deserve better”.
Freja Lundberg wrote to Nicola Sturgeon calling for more help battling the illness – which she said has “robbed” her of her future.
The 23-year-old was set to graduate from the University of Aberdeen this summer with a first-class honours degree in geography and international relations.
But after catching the virus in January, Freja developed long Covid.
She has lost five stone, sleeps for 16 hours a day, and said brain fog, fatigue and shortness of breath made it impossible for her to graduate.
Freja, from Inverness, wrote to Ms Sturgeon calling for more specialist clinics.
But she was left “dismayed” by the first minister’s response, which said “we must learn more about this condition before we consider a move to create more specialist clinics”.
Freja said: “Long Covid has taken my independence and robbed me of my future.
“I feel like I have been written off. The government needs to rethink their strategy for long Covid patients.
“Numbers are only going to grow and there is nothing in place to properly support us.
“My life has been on pause since January and I have been left able to do little beyond moving from my bed to the couch.
“We deserve better.”
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Freja first noticed Covid symptoms when she fell ill with a sore throat earlier this year. She soon developed severe chest pains and was taken to hospital in Inverness.
Freja returned home the same day, but due to the severity of her chest pain she was placed on the hospital’s Covid home monitoring programme.
But more than five months on, her symptoms have not improved.
Freja says she is unable to walk or stand without feeling dizzy or getting breathless. She suffers from an increased heart rate, loss of appetite and has been prescribed the strong painkiller Tramadol for her chest.
She has also received a preliminary diagnosis of Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), a condition affecting blood flow.
Freja said: “I haven’t been able to keep up with university. I sleep for 16 hours a day and have to concentrate on breathing.
“The chest pain increases when I speak so I haven’t been able to talk much and the brain fog and memory issues means my mind will go blank.
“When I stand up, my vision goes and I feel dizzy. If I continue to stand upright I pass out, so I can’t really stand or walk.
“My life has been put on pause since January. I’ve been incapable of doing anything.
“It’s important to fund research, but at the same time people like me who are living with long Covid can’t wait years for the results.
“We need help now.
“I expected there to be medical support in place, but I have been abandoned by the health system.
“My GP tried to refer me to cardiology, respiratory and infectious diseases, but none of them took the referrals despite my symptoms because I was a Covid patient.
“I’ve gone to Nicola Sturgeon, but I’ve got nowhere.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the impact long Covid has on physical and mental wellbeing and we are working to ensure people have access to the support they need for assessment, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation and in a setting that is as close to their home as possible.
“While long Covid is a relatively new condition, we have already developed an approach in responding to it. We are strengthening the existing services offered by our NHS, partnering with the third sector and investing £2.5m in Scottish-led research.
“NHS Scotland continues to deliver its full range of services to support the needs of people with long Covid, and we are engaging with NHS boards as they co-ordinate pathways across primary, community and secondary care services to support a coherent patient journey.”