NHSE&I Changes to Shielded Guidance

The UK Government has set out a road map for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme.

The guidance will change on 6th July and again on 1st August , based on clinical evidence.

What are the changes?

Recently, the UK Government advised that you can spend time outdoors, if you wish, with your own household, or if you live alone with another household. Following this, and alongside current scientific and medical advice the UK Government is planning to relax shielding guidance in stages.

From 6th July, the guidance will change so you can meet in groups of up to six people from outside your household – outdoors with social distancing. If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household.

From 1st August, you will no longer need to shield, and the advice will be that you can visit shops and places of worship, but you should continue maintaining rigorous social distancing.

Why is the guidance changing now?

The road map has been developed in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of those who are shielding in mind. Current statistics show that the rate of catching coronavirus in the community continues to decrease. On average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.

Unless advised otherwise by your clinician, you are still in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category and should continue to follow the advice for that category. This information is available on the Gov website.

We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spread too much, we may need to advise you to shield again.

What support is available to people who are shielding until the end of July?

Essential supplies

There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:

  • Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers online as needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket, they will be eligible for a priority slot.
  • 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.
  • Local councils and volunteers are also providing support to people who are shielding, to enable them to stay safely in their homes. The government is funding local councils to continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.
  • Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery and prepared meal delivery. A list has been shared with local authorities and charities.
  • A free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials. If you have registered for this support online before 17th July you will continue to receive weekly food box deliveries until the end of July.
  • If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact your local council to find out what support services are available in their area.
  • For anyone facing financial hardship, the government has made £63 million available to local councils in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials.

NHS Volunteer Responders

NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:

  • Collecting shopping, medication 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
  • Transport to medical appointments

Please call 0808 196 3646 between 08:00-20:00 to arrange support or speak to your health care professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk

Healthcare

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time.

Mental health support

It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low.

If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health or you are looking for more support for someone else, we would urge you to speak to a GP and seek out mental health support delivered by charities or the NHS.

Income and employment support

At this time, people who are shielding are advised not to go to work. This guidance remains advisory.

Those shielding will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of their shielding status until the 31st July.

From 1st August, if clinically extremely vulnerable people are unable to work from home but need to work, they can, as long as the business is COVID safe.

The Government is asking employers to work with them to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their shielding employees. Employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.

Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they can continue to use the Job Retention Scheme for shielded employees who have already been furloughed.

What support will be available after July?

From 1st August, clinically extremely vulnerable people will continue to have access to the above services. To get priority supermarket delivery slots, you will need to have registered online before 17th July.

The Government is committed to supporting local councils and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of the support and advice available can be found on their website by visiting www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to the start of shielding. Individuals should continue to contact their local council if they have any ongoing social care needs.