Information for people who are shielding

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, we have developed a series of frequently asked questions regarding the issue of those patients who are being ‘Shielded’ on medical grounds from complications of Coronavirus.  Such patients should have received a letter to confirm their shielded status. If this does not answer your question, please feel free to contact the surgery regarding your query.

Further information can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 

I am a shielded patient, what is the latest advice about what I can and can’t do?

  • Shielding Advice remains in place for those who have received a letter. The government updated their advice regarding shielding patients on May 31st as follows:

‘People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart’.

  • Some patients who are shielding will feel that this is still too much of a risk given their health status and we would stress that it is still very much an individual choice despite of the above advice.

When does the shielding period end?

The Current shielding period is due to end on June 30, however this is being reviewed and we are expecting moreguidance to be communicated by the Government prior to June 30.

  • Further information will be released by HM Government in due course and things will be kept under regular review.
  • We would stress that the likelihood of all protective measures for shielded patients being eased after this date would seem unlikely given current rates of infection in the UK.

 I am a shielded patient and I would like to return to work

  • Your shielded patient letter acts a proof that you are not to be considered for work outside of the home until the end of the shielding period.
  • However, some patients will decide on individually assessing their risk that they feel they would like to return prior to the end of the shielding period. For those patients we would suggest to discuss things further with your employer about your individual risk and how your workplace could be adapted to help minimise your risk further.
  • The advice would still be that if you chose to work, then working remotely from home is preferable.

I have not received a letter, but I think I should be shielding

  • Whilst shielding letters were received by around 1.5million patients in the UK, to those who were deemed the highest risk, or ‘extremely vulnerable’ category for potential complications from Coronavirus, a larger cohort of patients remained who were at ‘increased’ risk, or were deemed to be ‘vulnerable’ from the virus.
  • Patients who are in the ‘vulnerable’ category will not have received a letter asking them to stay at home for their safety, however it is important they are still strict with rules around social distancing and avoid crowded indoor spaces where possible.
  • The full list of patients that should be shielding can be found on the government website here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19#clinically-extremely-vulnerable-groups

  • Those in the Moderate Risk Group, (also termed the vulnerable patient cohort) include:
  • Any one eligible for the annual flu vaccination (except those aged 65 to 69 year old inclusive who have no other qualifying conditions)
  • Who do not meet the CMO criteria for the high risk group for COVID-19

This includes the following patient groups:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (for adults this is usually anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as mild or moderate asthma, non-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
    • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure (except for severe cases)
    • chronic kidney disease (Stages 1-3)
    • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
    • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) (except for specific cases who take particular immunosuppressant medications)
    • diabetes
    • being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
    • those who are pregnant.
  • Of course, there remains a number of borderline cases and grey areas and we would welcome any one still unsure about whether they should be shielding who has not received a letter from the Government, their GP practice or their hospital specialist, to please contact the surgery for further advice and a GP will generally be able to respond within seven working days, due to this being additional work on top of usual surgery matters.

I am a ‘vulnerable’ patient (not shielding) and my employer wants me to return to work

  • Vulnerable patients should remain extra vigilant with their social distancing. It is therefore important to discuss concerns with your employer about your health, your current role and how they are addressing concerns regarding protecting staff, including measures around social distancing.
  • Many employers are reacting responsibly to the guidelines set out by the government and are making a number of changes, including adapting roles in the workplace, placing Perspex screens, ensuring the use of face coverings and also offering people to work from home.
  • If this is not possible and you remain concerned that the workplace remains unsafe as social distancing cannot be maintained, then you can seek further advice from Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, known as ACAS, at https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
  • Usually, a letter from the GP is not required as this is a matter for HR departments and occupational health, but in small number of cases, letters to provide evidence of health conditions can be produced for a fee, or a fit note can be produced if you believe you are not fit for work.

I am a shielded patient, but I live with someone who is returning to school/work

  • The general advice is that they should be able to leave the house to go to work or school as long as measures are taken to reduce potential onward transmission in the home on their return, for instance strict handwashing, washing clothes and staying 2m apart.
  • The government advice outlines: ‘The rest of your household do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to support you in shielding and to carefully follow guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).’
  • As ever, the process of shielding is a deeply individual one and it is important to perform your own assessment of the relative risks, whilst the advice continues to be reviewed.

I am a shielded patient. Is it safe for me to come for an appointment?

  • We will assess you in the first instance over the telephone or online appointment to deal with your needs.
  • If we assess that you need to come into the surgery for clinical reasons we have identified separate areas in the practices where we only see shielded patients.
  • If we require you to attend for appointments, including such as blood tests or injections, the staff will be wearing masks, aprons and gloves to protect you.
  • Staff will keep your appointment to the minimal amount of time required by calling you first to discuss and queries or give you any advice where appropriate.
  • You will not be expected to wait in the waiting room but will be asked to remain in your car. You can let the surgery know of your arrival by calling a designated number that will be provided to you prior to the appointment and the clinician will collect you from the car park, having already donned in their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • If you do not travel to the surgery via car, please inform us prior to your arrival as we have created a separate waiting area to keep you safe.
  • Despite this, if you have no means of getting to the surgery and cannot obtain support then we will discuss the option of a clinician performing a home visit to see you at your home address, although this will always be based on clinical need.

 

We would urge anyone who remains unsure or uncertain regarding any of these issues to continue to contact the surgery in the usual way.

 

 

 

 

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