High Risk Patients

Patients at particularly high risk of complications from COVID-19 infection include people on drugs which suppress the immune system, poorly controlled diabetics, people with COPD who have had more than 2 courses of prednisolone in the last year, people with severe asthma or heart failure, people without a spleen and transplant patients.


All patients identified as highest clinical risk who are shielding are asked to register with the Government Support website (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable).  This service provides three offers of support:
1.Essential grocery supplies – a free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials, as well as priority delivery slots  with supermarkets (currently only available to those who are already registered with the supermarket in question);
2.Medicines – arrangements to have medicines delivered to people’s homes by local community pharmacies and dispensing doctors; and
3.Social contact and basic needs – for example, emotional or social support such as people to talk to on the phone or via a computer.
To receive support, people must be in receipt of a letter from the NHS, or from their GP/hospital clinician, advising them to follow shielding guidance due to their medical condition.
Please note, there may be a short delay between people being identified as clinically highest clinical risk, a flag being applied to their patient record, and support arriving.
If people receive a letter, and do not register with the Government support website, Government call agents will contact them directly to confirm whether they have a need, and to help them register if appropriate.


Other patients at risk (those over 70 and anyone under 70 who would ordinarily qualify for a flu vaccination) should continue to practice social distancing.



Food and Grocery Deliveries

Direct to doorstep deliveries


Government has offered a ‘direct to doorstep’ weekly food parcel delivery service for all those who are ‘highest clinical risk’ who require support getting essential supplies. This service will continue for as long as it is needed, to protect those who are shielding.
Each parcel is based on a 7-day supply of essential items for one person, and includes food items, as well as toilet tissue plus hand soap and/or shower gel.
An A4 note is included in each package, explaining that if the recipient has any allergies, and/or religious or cultural dietery requirements, they should contact their local council. The note also asks people to contact their council if they feel they need more than one package per week.
Food parcels are delivered by major food service suppliers, directly to the doorstep.
If there is no answer, the parcel will be left on the doorstep or recorded as ‘unable to access’, if leaving the parcel would mean leaving it at a communal entrance.
Delivery drivers will observe strict social distancing measures when delivering food parcels.
Delivery drivers will report on the outcome of individual deliveries. This information will be shared with local councils.



The Government Digital Service has provided supermarkets with the details of people who are shielding, and have requested food parcels. They are able to prioritise the highest clinical risk group for click and collect services and/or home delivery.
To receive a priority supermarket slot, shielding individuals must register on the Government Support website once they have received their NHS letter, or use the automated telephone line. When signing up, they must request essential food supplies for their data to be passed on to supermarkets.

Medicine Deliveries

The NHS has put in place arrangements for individuals to have medicines delivered by local community pharmacies and dispensing doctors during the COVID-19 outbreak, if they have requested help with this via the Government support website.
Medicines are being delivered by community pharmacies, or dispensing doctors, to eligible individuals who, due to their medical condition, should not present at the pharmacy, or at the dispensing doctor dispensary, and where there is no other person who can collect the item from the pharmacy and deliver it to the clinical extremely vulnerable person’s door.
This service will continue until the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided and Government decides that community pharmacies and dispensing practices are no longer required to provide home delivery services.
Where there is no family, friend, neighbour or carer, please contact the delivery service.

Social contact and basic care

Local councils are key to the effective delivery of this component of the offer to highest clinical risk patients who are shielding, and who have registered with the Government website and requested assistance with social and basic care needs.

Local councils should contact those people who have indicated, either via the Government support website, call centre, direct contact with the council or another partner, that they require help to meet their basic needs (e.g. help with bathing, domestic chores) to ensure these are met. Councils will assess what help is required and how best individuals can be supported, using existing resources or the voluntary and community sector as appropriate.
People who are shielding may experience anxiety, fear and loneliness during this period, especially those who have no network of friends, family or neighbours nearby.
Data shared by the Government support website with councils will indicate whether an individual has requested social contact during the period they are required to shield.
It is for local councils to determine the best way to coordinated this support, locally, working with voluntary and community sector partners.

Help from family, friends and neighbours

If you’re self-isolating you may need help with things like shopping or looking after pets. If you can, please contact family, friends or neighbours and let them know how they can help you. To avoid physical contact we suggest that you get in touch by phone or using email or other technology. This will help us to focus on the most vulnerable and protect people who don’t have anyone who can help them.


How we can help if your family, friends and neighbours can’t

Contact us

If you don’t have anyone who can help you can contact the local council on 01609 780780 every day between 8am and 5:30pm and we will direct you to the right support.


We’re working closely with our borough and district council partners and have a network of community support organisations across the county that we can connect you with.

Current government advice on shielding including FAQs
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