Shielding vulnerable people

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

A network of community hubs are being set up across the UK to deliver food to people with serious medical conditions who have been told to remain indoors for 12 weeks because of COVID-19. Plans are being put in place to help organise the support for people with conditions listed below. People who fall into this group, will receive a letter asking them to avoid all social contact for three months under a “shielding” plan to protect them from the virus. If people think they fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed below and have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by their GP, they should discuss their concerns with their GP or hospital clinician.

People who do not have family and friends living nearby will be able to get vital medicines and food from community hubs. Medicines will be delivered by community pharmacies. Groceries and essential household items will be delivered by local council and food distributors, working with supermarkets, to ensure nobody needs to worry about the food and essential items that they will need. These parcels will be left on the doorstep. Those using community hubs will be able to do so free of charge. This main change over time but the priority will be to ensure that the people who really need it, get the supplies as soon as possible.

Essential carers will be allowed to continue to visit. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or feeding.

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients
  2. People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

We understand this is an anxious time and people considered extremely vulnerable will understandably have questions and concerns. Government plans are being readied to make sure they can rely on a wide range of help and support.

If someone thinks they fall into this vulnerable group, they can register for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. If they are not sure whether their medical condition makes them extremely vulnerable, they should register anyway. They can register themselves, or ask someone else to do so on their behalf here. It will be useful for them to have their NHS number to hand. They can find this on a prescription, or on any letter the NHS has sent.

More information can be found here.

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