'Long Covid left me close to taking my own life': Dorset man forced to travel abroad for treatment

Chris Witham tells ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee about his struggles with Long Covid.

A Dorset man says he had no option but to travel to Germany for specialist treatment for his Long Covid because there was no significant help available on the NHS.

Chris Witham, who runs a theatre school in Bournemouth, flew to Kempten near Munich to spend £6,000 on pioneering treatment.

Mr Witham has suffered from Long Covid since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year, experiencing flu-like symptoms and loss of feeling in his arms and legs.He said: "The last eighteen months have been the hardest eighteen months of my life to date. I've felt close to suicide, to giving up."

Chris says he had no option but to travel to Germany for specialist treatment.

Chris received a treatment called HELP Apheresis, which involved blood filtering, to get rid of any small, micro clots. Chris had three sessions during a week-long stay at a clinic.

Although there are reports that this has been a successful treatment for some people with Long Covid, it did not work for Chris.

He is now calling for a greater sense of urgency to find an effective treatment for Long Covid.

Chris said: "I'm feeling a little bit better since I got back from Germany - but unfortunately I haven't noticed any big improvements following the treatment.

"It has been a daily struggle to search and hope for anything that would improve my condition. I've had no luck in the UK from any sort of treatment.

"Long Covid seems to have created a whole community of sufferers and a whole myriad of ailments, that none of the medical profession is able to find out what is causing these symptoms."

Chris has now signed up for a new clinical trial taking place in Oxford.

NHS England told ITV Meridian it is taking "practical action to support those experiencing ongoing Long Covid symptoms."

That includes setting up 90 specialist clinics which are seeing around 4,000 new patients each month, the health service said.

Samaritans can be contacted via the website here or by calling 116 123.