GPs in Scotland have warned the numbers of long Covid cases are putting them under growing pressure.
Doctors’ leaders said the potential need to carry out two vaccination programmes, for both seasonal flu and coronavirus booster doses, may also stretch their services in the coming months.
The Scottish Government’s national clinical director has suggested those who receive the seasonal flu jab could have it on the same day as their third dose of coronavirus vaccine.
A number of factors have led to growing workloads for GPs, according to anecdotal data from the BMA Scotland union.
Dr Patricia Moultrie, deputy chair of the Scottish GPs committee of the BMA, told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper the union is “more concerned than it has been for a long time”.
She said: “General practices are in a very difficult place workload-wise, and we are very anxious about what the future weeks and months hold.
“It does look as though long Covid is going to be an illness that’s going to be managed in the community, and it’s good that fewer people are being admitted to hospital.
“But looking at the numbers that we’re seeing, we are very concerned about the workload that is going to be sitting in the community with the pandemic.”
A survey earlier this year found two-thirds of GPs described their workload as unmanageable.
At the end of March, the Office for National Statistics estimated there were around 79,000 people reporting that they were experiencing “long Covid”.
Scottish Labour has also called on the government to create an “ambitious and forward-thinking plan” to deal with long Covid, including a network of specialised clinics.
On Sunday, the party’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Long Covid is our next health and economic crisis.
“As we speak, thousands of Scots living with long Covid are suffering and are being denied the targeted help that others in England and Wales are receiving.
“We are today calling for the establishment of specialist long Covid clinics, investment in Scottish-specific research into long Covid and the recognition of long Covid as an occupational disease.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson told Scotland on Sunday: “GP practices will only be asked to provide flu and Covid-19 vaccinations where they have capacity to do so without affecting essential services.”
They added: “Covid-19 is still a relatively new illness and it is important that we continue to improve our understanding of its effects on people.
“We are keeping all aspects under review, including specialist services and funding to ensure people suffering from long Covid receive the best possible care and support.”