High-risk Cohort – Shielding Letters

Mersea Island Medical Practice 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’s 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/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.

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. If you are in a vulnerable group and do not have any social support from either friends, family or neighbours you have the option to contact two service providers. The first is the voluntary group set up on Mersea which can be contacted by calling 01206 489240 between 08:00-17:00. Alternatively, if that group is unable to help, you can contact the Essex Welfare Hub set up by Essex County Council by visiting https://essexwelfareservice.org or calling 03003 039988.