Update on the Government’s shielding policy and implications for General Practice

The Government has said they are aware that the guidance around ‘shielded’ patients has been confusing but they have now clarified the guidance and we wanted update you with the latest information.

New Government guidance was sent to your practices on the 21 March asking you to identify additional patients who may be known to your practice as being at highest clinical risk. As from today No practice is to carry out their own additional (‘group 4’) searches. We are happy for practices who have already carried out the searches to use those and no letters sent from these lists need to be retracted.

Instead of these additional searches NHSE is hoping to triangulate those extra patients via:

  • Self-identification of patients via government website and
  • Consultants identifying them from Secondary care Outpatient Clinics. These patients will be flagged on the GP system

To summarise, the identification of, and communications with, these vulnerable individuals is being carried out centrally, with ‘flags’ added to the GP systems – many have already been identified with further identification currently underway. Thank you all of those who worked hard to identify our vulnerable patients ahead of this national timescale.

Practices will be asked to review practice-level lists based on those that are self-identifying in this category, next week.