The Shielding Patient List has been maintained so that we can write again to this group with any updates or if the advice changes. As the new advice from 22nd December 2020 represented a change, we wrote again directly to people on the Shielding Patient List with advice on how to keep safe.
This guidance is for people, including children, who are extremely vulnerable to developing serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus because they have a particular serious underlying health condition (these are listed below).
The guidance is also for family and friends of people classified as extremely vulnerable, who want guidance on how to keep their friend/family member safe.
The advice to those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable has changed. You are advised that you should no longer attend work or school outside the home. We have sent a letter to everyone on the Shielding Patient List confirming this advice. A version of the letter can be viewed here.
The information in the letter is also available in easy read.
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.
Extremely vulnerable refers to people in Wales who have one of a very specific list of pre-existing and long-term serious health conditions.
Based on what we know so far the impact of their pre-existing, long-term health condition on their immune system puts them at high risk of serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus.
People in the extremely vulnerable group include:
If you think there are clinical reasons why you should be added to the Shielding Patient List, you should discuss this with your GP or hospital clinician. They are able to add people to the shielding patient list if it is clinically appropriate to do so.
Sticking to the basics remains the best way to protect yourself:
You are also advised to avoid using public transport and avoid sharing a car with anyone you don’t live with or have formed a support bubble with.
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.
Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow the advice not to attend work or school outside the home until further notice, as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups.
The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, including if you have received the vaccine and also if they have received the vaccine.
You may feel anxious or frightened and taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing is important. These are some ideas about how you can do that:
There are also services to support you and others you might be worried about. Talking about worries and problems can make things easier.
There are a number of helplines and information services that provide guidance and information tailored for people with particular health conditions. Further information on looking after both your physical and mental health and wellbeing is available on the Public Health Wales website. For those with specific health conditions or requirements click on the ‘Charity and Support Organisation Directory’.
ACTivate Your Life is a four session taught course that aims to teach people about stress and suffering caused by emotional issues, like worry, or chronic pain. To start go to phw.nhs.wales/activateyourlife.
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 six 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 at: https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/active-monitoring-sign-up/active-monitoring-form/.
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 at bit.ly/ypmhten.
If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS Direct Wales or call 111.
You are strongly advised to 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.
If you cannot make alternative arrangements, 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 letters sent to those on the shielding patient list can be used as evidence for the purposes of claiming SSP.
Members of your household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend work if they are unable to work from home.
You can get specific advice on any issues and also on your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, or somebody who gives you a service, then the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) offers a free advice service which you can access by calling 0808 800 0082, by text phone on 0808 800 0084 or by visiting their website: www.equalityadvisoryservice.com
If you have concerns about your health and safety at work, you can raise them with any union safety representatives, or ultimately with the organisation with responsibility for enforcement in your workplace, either the Health and Safety Executive or your local authority.
Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support for people who have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition. Support can be provided where someone needs help or adaptations beyond reasonable adjustments.
To find out more about Access to Work:
For information on financial assistance available to you please visit Understanding Universal Credit (gov.uk)
As our knowledge of COVID-19 has grown, we now know that very few children and young people are at highest risk of severe illness due to the virus. Doctors have therefore been reviewing all children and young people who were initially identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to confirm whether they are still thought to be at highest risk.
If you have already discussed this with your child’s doctors and they have confirmed your child is still considered clinically extremely vulnerable, your child should not attend school.
Children and young people in the household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend school. Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable should also continue to go to school.