Extremely Vulnerable (shielded) Cohort – Shielding Letters

Colne Medical Centre is aware that some highly vulnerable patients have been excluded in letters sent out by NHS England week commencing 23rd March 2020. This is not our fault, it is a national issue which is being addressed.

The high-risk cohort have been separated into two groups by NHS England. NHS England have already made contact with one group as they have access to certain patient data via national registers.

It has been requested that GP Practices send a letter to all of the patients in the second group, as NHS England do not have access to this groups personal data.

Last week some guidance came through to GP Practices from NHS England, British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners around identifying high-risk patients. However, we have been in discussions with NHS Digital to seek further clarification on a number of points:

  • Enabling clinicians to understand what clinical conditions have led to patients being marked as high-risk
  • Understanding why some patients are not included in the high-risk group and the process that clinicians need to take to include those patients
  • What responsibilities clinicians have with respect to contacting patients who they believe should be included

We are awaiting guidance from NHS Digital and in the meantime all GP Practices have been advised not to undertake any activity until further guidance is available. As soon as we have the required information we will be in a position to identify any remaining high-risk patients that haven’t yet been contacted and send them a letter regarding the current shielding advice.

In the meantime you should be carrying out strict social distancing. However, if you think you will fall into the high-risk group you also have the choice to undertake shielding measures as set out by the government, www.gov.uk.

Please refrain from contacting the practice regarding this matter, we are experiencing very high call volumes and must be able to prioritise our phone lines for patients that have a genuine medical concern. Our receptionists are unable to provide any additional information on this matter.

Please also note that we are not issuing letters to support applications for home delivered shopping.

VULNERABLE GROUP

If you are EITHER aged 70+ OR 18+ and offered a flu jab due to a health condition, you have an increased risk of severe illness if they catch Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). If you have been directed to this page via text message we believe that either you, or the named person you care for, fall into one of these categories.

To clarify you are NOT in the extremely vulnerable (Shielding) group.

The safest course of action for you is to stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact to protect yourself from exposure to the virus.

You will of course have a need for food, medicines and other support. If you don’t have family, friends and a support network who can help you with that then please contact Essex Welfare Services, part of PROVIDE (a health and social care service) who will be able to provide support.

The website link for Essex Welfare Services/PROVIDE is: www.essexwelfareservice.org.uk.

If you can’t reach Essex Welfare Services/Provide through that route then you can also make contact by phone on: 03003 039988 but we are urging people to try to make contact in the first instance through the web wherever possible.

If, at any point, you think you have developed symptoms of Coronavirus, such as a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature (above 37.8 C) seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service (www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19/) If you do not have access to the Internet call the NHS on 111.