‘I don’t know what to do or where to go’. Experiences of accessing healthcare support from the perspectives of people living with Long Covid and healthcare professionals: A qualitative study in Bradford, UK

Publication authors

Sarah A. Baz PhD, Chao Fang PhD, J. D. Carpentieri PhD, Laura Sheard PhD



In October 2022, it was estimated 2.3 million people in the United Kingdom have self-reported Long Covid (LC). Many people have reported not receiving adequate healthcare support. There is a lack of research which provides an in-depth exploration of the barriers faced by people with LC in accessing healthcare support. It is important to understand these barriers to provide better support, care and advice for those experiencing LC.


To understand the barriers faced in accessing primary, secondary and specialist healthcare support for people with LC.

Design and Participation

40 interviews were conducted with people living with LC in Bradford alongside 12 interviews with healthcare professionals (HCPs) providing LC support in Bradford healthcare settings. Interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.


People living with LC had a large degree of difficulty in accessing healthcare services for LC support. We categorized the healthcare access experiences of participants into five main types: (1) being unable to access primary care, (2) accessing primary care but receiving (perceived) inadequate support, (3) extreme persistence, (4) alternatives to mainstream health care and (5) positive experiences. There was a severe lack of access to specialist LC services. Ethnic minority participants faced a further barrier of mistrust and fear of services deterring them from accessing support. HCPs discussed systemic barriers to delivering services. Experiences were embedded in macrostructural issues further exacerbated by the pandemic.


To better support people with LC, the barriers faced in accessing healthcare support must be addressed. Of significance, improvements to general practitioner access are required; especially as GPs are the first line of support for people living with LC.

Patient and Public Involvement

A patient and public involvement group is engaged at regular intervals in the project.