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Information for people who have been identified as being at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

First published:
16 August 2020
Last updated:

Am I or should I be on the shielding patient list?

Only people with serious underlying health conditions identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and more susceptible to the most serious effects of COVID-19 are added to the shielding patient list (SPL). The list includes, for example, people who have had organ transplants, people who are receiving certain cancer treatments, or who suffer with severe respiratory illness. The list can be found within our guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus.

If you are concerned that due to a medical condition you should be added to the list you should contact your GP to discuss your condition. GP or hospital clinicians are able to update individual records in order to add a patient to the SPL, if clinically appropriate.

There is a wider group people whose conditions mean they are at an increased risk, but are not considered clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are within this group you should be rigorous about following social distancing measures but otherwise follow the same advice as the general population.

If you are on the Shielding Patient List you should have received a copy of the letter in the post. You can also view a version of the letter here. The letter contains the advice on how to best protect yourself from coronavirus.

The information in the letter is also available in easy read.

What advice should I follow?

The advice to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable changed on 22 December. You should no longer attend work or school outside the home. 

We know long periods of isolation can be harmful for mental and physical health, therefore you can remain part of a support bubble, as long as you take care. You are encouraged to still go outside to exercise and attend medical appointments.

Everyone in Wales is currently subject to regulations in place at alert level 4 and therefore must stay at home as much as possible.

I want to sign up for text alerts, how do I do this?

This service is only available to those on the Shielding Patient List. The instructions and a Unique Reference Number were provided in the October letter from the Chief Medical Officer and will be provided again in future letters.

If you have followed the sign up process, please give us 10 days to acknowledge your request. If you do not hear from us by the day 11 there may be an issue with the details you have submitted. Please ensure you use a valid email address and/or telephone number and that the Name, post code and Unique Reference Number match the details on your letter.

When will I get my COVID-19 vaccination?

The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring everyone on the Shielding Patient List (16 years and over) receives their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of February. You will be invited to a dedicated clinic, so to help the NHS, please wait to be invited. There will be no need to apply for or ask GPs or pharmacists for the vaccination, as invitation will be automatic. Please do not call your surgery or hospital.

The groups to be prioritised to receive a COVID-19 vaccine first, are decided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) at a UK level. This is based on knowledge around who is most at risk from COVID-19.

Read further information.

Should I go to work?

You should work from home because the risk of exposure to the virus is significant. If you cannot work from home, then you should not attend work. This is particularly the case for those whose work requires them to be in regular or sustained contact with other people, or where individuals share a poorly ventilated workspace for long periods. You may want to speak to your employer about taking on an alternative role to enable you to work from home if possible.

What support is available if I cannot work from home?

Your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible.

As you are being advised not to attend your workplace, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The letter you receive in the post can be used as evidence for the purposes of claiming SSP.

What are my options if I feel I am being treated unfairly by my employer/workplace setting?

If employees encounter difficulties at work we are advising that they liaise with their union, if a member, or they may wish to engage with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who offer free advice to employers and employees alike, in resolving disputes. A link to their specific advice on Coronavirus is here - their free helpline number is 0300 123 1100.

Wales Trade Union Congress (TUC) Cymru has also launched a Whistleblowing Online hotline for any worker who may wish to report health and safety concerns. You do not have to be a member of a union to access this service. Information about the hotline.

Should I wear a face covering for further protection?

Face coverings are mandatory in certain settings. Guidance on face coverings can be found here.

Certain people may be exempt from wearing a face covering. You can find additional information here.

I am feeling anxious. Where can I find support?

Extra help for your mental wellbeing is available across Wales, online and over the phone. These resources are safe, free, and you don’t need a referral.

SilverCloud is an online course which offers support for anxiety, depression and much more, all based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). You can sign up at nhswales.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/.

CALL Mental Health Listening Line provides a confidential mental health listening and emotional support line which is open 24/7. CALL can also signpost to support in local communities and a range of online information. Call 0800132737, text “help” to 81066 or visit callhelpline.org.uk/.

Mind Active Monitoring provides 6 weeks guided self-help for, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and more. To get started, talk to your GP, any other health professional, or sign up directly.

ACTivate Your Life is a 4 session taught course that aims to teach people about stress and suffering caused by emotional issues, like worry, or chronic pain.

The Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit links young people, aged 11 to 25, to websites, apps, helplines, and more to build resilience. You can access the toolkit.

If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS Direct Wales or call 111.

Where can I find information about my health condition, managing my condition or Covid-related information specific to my condition?

There are a number of helplines and information services that provide guidance and information tailored for people with particular health conditions. A list of organisations providing such services is available on the PHW website - click on the 'Charity and Support Organisation Directory for those with specific health conditions or requirements.’

Do children with specific health conditions need to shield?

New evidence and experience of the COVID-19 indicates that not all those children and young people who had been previously advised to shield need to do so. This means that we have been reviewing the Shielding Patient List to ensure we remove any children who do not need to shield. Guidance produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health was considered and endorsed by the Chief Medical Officers of the 4 UK nations collectively.

Paediatricians and GPs are reviewing the records of children who have been shielding to assess whether they need to remain on the Shielding Patient List. Children will remain on the Shielding Patient List until they are informed otherwise.

My GP has informed me that my child/dependent will remain on the Shielding Patient List. Can they attend school/their childcare setting?

If your child’s doctor has confirmed they are still considered clinically extremely vulnerable, your child should not attend school.

I am on the Shielding Patient List, can my child attend school?

Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

I don’t feel comfortable about going to the supermarket. What options are available to me?

Avoid going shopping yourself. Ask friends, relatives, neighbours or volunteers to go shopping for you. Priority supermarket delivery slots are also available to you online.

Many supermarkets also offer food boxes you can order for delivery to your door. Most have also introduced various e-payment methods to remove the need for access to cash if other people are shopping for you. You can find out more on alternative options here.

Can I get my medicine delivered?

If you do not feel able to collect your own prescriptions you can:

  • Ask someone to pick up your prescription from your local pharmacy to help (this is the best option). 
  • If you do not have anyone who can help, telephone your pharmacy; let them know you are in a high-risk group and speak to them about how they can help with your prescription. We are asking community pharmacies to ensure that they prioritise medicines delivery slots for those who have the greatest need.

You may also need to arrange any special medication prescribed to you by your hospital care team to be collected or delivered to you. 

How do I find a volunteer to help me?

If you need support from a volunteer or voluntary organisations your local County Voluntary Council will be able to put you in touch with organisations that might be able to help.

What should I do if I need to see my GP/hospital consultant?

It is very important you continue to attend appointments and seek help for urgent medical issues.

GP appointments continue to be available, though initially they may be provided by phone, email or online. If you need to be seen in person, your GP practice will contact you to let you know what you should do.