Update for shielding patients from the Government
22 June 2020
IMPORTANT ADVICE ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
The Government advice for those shielding in England is changing soon. For now, you continue to be advised to follow the shielding guidance rigorously. This letter explains how the guidance is changing, why it is changing and what the change in advice means for you.
We know that shielding has not been easy for you and anybody living with you and we would like to thank you for your resilience over the last few months. However, it has been important for you to shield while the virus was widespread. Thankfully the number of people with the virus, is coming down, and so is the risk to you.
What is the current guidance?
Over the course of the last three months, you have been identified as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable due to an underlying disease or health condition that may put you at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). This remains the case and you are advised to follow the shielding guidance rigorously.
You were advised to ‘shield’ to protect yourself during the peak of the epidemic in England when you were more likely to come into contact with the virus in your daily life. The initial shielding guidance advised that you should stay at home at all times and strictly avoid non-essential face-to-face contact.
On 1 June the shielding guidance was slightly relaxed and we suggested that you you may wish to spend some time outdoors away from your home once a day. This change was based scientific evidence that the initial peak of the pandemic had passed in the UK and, in general, the likelihood of meeting someone in the community with infection had significantly reduced. Like all our guidance to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, this was advisory. The current guidance can be found online at GOV.UK.
What is changing?
Throughout the epidemic we have been clear on the need to balance the risk of the disease to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable with the benefits of gradually returning to normal life. We know that the shielding guidance has been challenging to follow and that it will take time to adjust.
The latest scientific evidence shows that the prevalence of disease across all English regions has continued to decline. If this trend continues as we expect it to, the Government will further relax its shielding advice in two stages on 6 July and 1 August.
From 6 July:
- you may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing;
- you no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household;
- in line with the wider guidance single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form 'a support bubble' with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other's homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance. This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities. However, all the other current shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time.
From 1 August:
the advice to ‘shield’ will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.
In practice, this means from 1 August you are advised that you no longer need to shield. This means that from 1 August:
- you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe;
- children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing;
- you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing; and
- you should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.
More detailed guidance will appear on GOV.UK when the changes come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.
Will the position be reviewed?
After 1 August we will continue to keep your name on the Shielded Patient List. We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise you to shield again. We have committed to reviewing the advice to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable at every review point of the wider social distancing measures. Should the scientific evidence require the Government to tighten the advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people, this will be communicated to you quickly and clearly.
Why is the guidance changing?
The Government’s guidance to those most at risk of severe illness if they catch Coronavirus has always been advisory and based on the balance of risk to this group at a time when the transmission of Coronavirus has been highest in our communities. We recognise everyone will feel differently about their own risk and have different priorities – our ambition has been to help and support you in looking after yourself through a very challenging period.
All Government decisions on shielding advice are led by the latest scientific evidence. The latest evidence shows that the chance of encountering Coronavirus in the community has continued to decline. Four weeks ago, around one person in 500 had the virus. Last week it was even lower with less than one in 1,700 people having the virus. As a result, we believe that the time is now right to relax our advice to those shielding further, but we understand that it might take a while to get back to routine daily life again.
Support to stay at home
If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.
This will give you time to prepare for new advice that you can visit shops, including supermarkets, as you did before the shielding programme commenced, provided you follow strict social distancing. We also recognise that, for some, this adjustment will take time. We can confirm that seven supermarkets have given you access to priority supermarket delivery slots, and these will continue beyond the end of July for those already signed up for support.
If you have yet to register for support, please do so online at GOV.UK or call 0800 028 8327 before 17 July so that support can reach you in time.
Local councils have also been providing support to those shielding. This has included a wide range of help to enable you to safely stay in your home, such as phone calls to reduce loneliness and meeting special dietary requirements. In order to help people adjust, local councils will continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.
If you are struggling as a result of Coronavirus please visit www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support. If you do not have internet access, please contact your local council who will be able to signpost you to available support.
NHS volunteer responders
Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July. NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:
- collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies;
- a regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
- transport to medical appointments.
Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health care professional for transport support. More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk.
Going back to work
You should discuss your situation with your employer and agree a plan for returning to work if you cannot work from home. Your employer may need to make adjustments to help you continue to work. Please go to www.gov.uk/access-to-work for more information.
Separate Government guidance has been issued on how employers can make workplaces COVID-safe including how they can maintain social distancing and a system of risk management in your workplace.
You will be able to use this letter as evidence for your employer to show that you cannot work outside your home until 31 July, including for statutory sick pay purposes.
Accessing NHS services
You should continue to access the essential services that you need, and you should contact the NHS if you have an urgent or emergency care need.
If you have ongoing appointments scheduled for care and treatment your GP surgery or hospital clinic will contact you to confirm the most appropriate arrangements.
Mental health support
It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low. You can go to Every Mind Matters (www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters) and GOV.UK for advice and tailored, practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing. If you are still struggling to cope we would urge you to speak to a GP.
If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell), you must self-isolate at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to the NHS website to arrange a test or contact NHS 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access.
MATT HANCOCK ROBERT JENRICK
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND THE GP PRACTICE IF YOU'VE VISITED OR TRAVELLED THROUGH CAMBODIA CHINA, HONG KONG, IRAN, ITALY, JAPAN, LAOS, MACAU, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR (BURMA), SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA, TAIWAN TENERIFE (Only the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel), THAILAND, VIETNAM AND HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COUGH, FEVER OR SHORTNESS OF BREATH WITHIN 2 WEEKS OF RETURNING, OR IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COUGH, FEVER OR SHORTNESS OF BREATH AFTER BEING IN CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WITH A CONFIRMED CASE OF CORONAVIRUS.
PLEASE CALL NHS 111 INSTEAD
ALL APPOINTMENTS WITH THE CLINICIANS WILL BE CONDUCTED VIA PHONE ONLY. OUR RECEPTION TEAM WILL BE ASKING ALL PATIENTS QUESTIONS REGARDING SYMPTOMS PRIOR TO BOOKING ANY APPOINTMENT.
Please bear with us as we are extremely busy at this time and calls will take longer than usual.
The GP will give you advice over the phone and if required he/she will make you a further appointment to attend the surgery. This is to minimize the footfall at the surgery to help protect our patient and staff.
Due to the Coronavirus we are only able to refer patients to hospital if they have a life or limb threatening condition. Do NOT contact the surgery with the expectation of an onward referral to hospital. Patients will be informed by the hospital if there are any changes to pre-booked appointments (via phone until April and via letter thereafter). Patients should continue to attend unless told otherwise. Please be advised that your GP surgery is still open for telephone consultation.
My Care Record
Our practice is now part of My Care Record - supporting the delivery of joined-up care.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, additional measures are being put in place to help health and care providers to deliver effective care. This includes how the information from your care records is used.
My Care Record is an approach to improving care by joining up health and care information. Wherever possible, health and care professionals will be able to access care records from other services if it is needed to deliver care for individuals with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms.
For example, we are working to make sure doctors, nurses and co-ordination staff at places you may receive advice or treatment can see important information from your GP record. This will include health and care professionals at neighbouring GP practices, NHS 111 and regional centres for the treatment of critically ill patients including the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London. This will make it easier and faster for them to deliver effective care for you if it is needed.
Please see the My Care Record website for more information including the Privacy Notice to support this work.
Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The NHS across Essex will be better prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases if the public follows Public Health England advice.
We have put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and staff which may mean your patient experience is subject to change.
The Chief Medical Officer has announced on Friday 13th March that the country has moved into the ‘Delay’ stage of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The new advice issued by the Prime Minister is to stay at home for 14 days if one member of the household is affected and if you have either:
a high temperature (37.8C or above) or
a new continuous cough
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
your condition gets worse
your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
Stay At Home advice can be found here
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and
Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Information remains subject to regular changes and updates. More information can be found on the NHS website here
Please see guide below for self isolation. To obtain a self isolation note from the NHS website please go to the link here
Please see links below for further information:
Government Advice links
Patients that are extremely vulnerable and should be shielding will receive a letter, if not please click here for further government advice and to register yourself.
HM Government Coronavirus Leaflet
COVID Symptom Tracker Download the app to your phone/tablet
Mencap Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Maldon District Council Advice
COVID-19 Community Pack v9