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COVID-19 - Latest RIDDOR figures released by HSE

The researchers call for GP’s to update coding to include the words “Long COVID” as a “national high priority”.

Long COVID:

  • Wide disparity between population survey and primary care records.

  • Latest RIDDOR figures released by HSE.

Following the publication of the REACT study into Long COVID on 24 June 2021, the British Medical Journal [2 July 2021] reported contrasting findings by researchers reviewing 58 million primary care records.

The researchers, led by Ben Goldacre of the University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Sciences, looked for a diagnostic code indicative of “Long COVID” within primary care records.

In the records, reviewed up to 25 April 2021 this year, only 23,273 instances of code compatible with “Long COVID” were found with wide geographical variations.

The researchers noted primary care providers utilised three codes:

  1. Acute - 0 to 4 weeks.
  2.  Ongoing symptomatic COVID - 4 to 12 weeks.
  3. Post COVID-19 Syndrome - 12 weeks and beyond.

Such coding having only been available from January 2021.

The researchers call for GP’s to update coding to include the words “Long COVID” as a “national high priority”.

The disparity

The limited number of Long COVID cases captured by this thorough review of GP databases is at distinct odds with the REACT population survey which showed Long COVID as a problem affecting up to 2 million of the UK adult population.

So what can explain the hundredfold difference?

The two main reasons are likely to be patients not attending upon their GP (for any one of a myriad of reasons) and misdiagnosis by GP’s themselves.

Applying a coding description in common with how enduring COVID symptoms are regarded by the population and commentators alike would be a decent starting point. It appears clear from every other evidence source that Long COVID affects far more than the 23,000 cases captured here.

Data integrity is key to prioritised research into prevalence, causes and duration of symptoms and essential to resource and financial planning by healthcare providers.

RIDDOR

On 13 July 2021, the latest published figures by the HSE, covering the period March 2020 to 12 June 2021, show 33,448 RIDDOR disease notifications, including 402 deaths – where there was ‘reasonable evidence’ to suggest occupational exposure was a cause of COVID-19.

January saw the highest month of reports in the pandemic so far – 5,710, dipping to 344 in May. There are, however, already signs of an uptick in the partial month’s figures of June of this year, reflective of rising transmission and positive cases amongst the general population. The sectors most affected were, once again, Health and Social work – 58 % and Education – 11 %.

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