Patients to start being removed from "clinically extremely vulnerable" or shielded list

As we move into the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic, some patients are being identified by clinicians (doctors and other healthcare professionals) as no longer needing to be on the clinically extremely vulnerable list. What does this mean?
black elderly man outside on phone hat

In the early stages of the pandemic, some people were identified as being extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus (i.e. extremely at risk). For example, people who have had organ transplants. The NHS wrote to these people asking them to 'shield' for 12 weeks. 

As we move into the next phase of the national response to Covid-19, a number of patients are being identified by healthcare professionals as no longer needing to be on this list. The decision to move someone from this list should always be a clinical decision. This means it is not made for any political, funding, or resource-related reason.

This process started last week and the Department of Health and Social Care has provided an update to Healthwatch to clarify the processes after some people received text messages before a conversation had taken place with their doctor.

How the process works

Healthcare professionals have the authority to remove patients from the shielded list if, after review, if they feel that he/she is not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

On 10 April, NHS England wrote to GPs to ask that they review the list for accuracy, as well as identify any additional patients who they feel should be included. The decision to remove a patient from the list following a list should always be a clinical decision. Doctors should discuss these decisions with their patients (ideally before the text is sent) and record their decision on the IT system.

Can they still access support?

Some shielded people have been receiving support from the Government and NHS Volunteer Responders. Services have been following up by text to make it clear that people removed from the list can still access forms of support including NHS Volunteers, and will retain their supermarket priority delivery slots.

What should you do if you are unsure?

If you have received a text and you're not sure about it, we advise you to contact your GP to discuss it. 

Healthwatch England has shared further information about shielding and what it means. Find out more by clicking here.

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