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Support for extremely vulnerable people (shielding)

Last Updated 7:09pm, 20 April 2020


Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

Protecting extremely vulnerable people

The NHS has identified people who have a high risk of getting severely ill if they catch coronavirus (COVID-19). This is because they have an underlying disease or health condition that means they are more likely to admitted to hospital if they catch the virus.

The NHS has contacted these extremely vulnerable people by letter or text message. They may also have been contacted by their GP.

If you have been told that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you should:

Who is extremely vulnerable?

The latest advice from the government explains the range of medical conditions that make people extremely vulnerable:

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

If you think that you, or someone you care for, has one of these conditions but you have not been contacted by the NHS or your GP, you should speak to your GP or hospital doctor.

What is shielding?

The NHS is advising these extremely vulnerable people to stay at home at all times and avoid face-to-face contact until the end of June, with the exception of carers and healthcare workers who they must see as part of their medical care. This is “shielding”. This will protect them by stopping contact with the virus. The letter from the NHS has detailed advice on the precautions that extremely vulnerable people should take.

These rigorous  precautions could make it difficult for some extremely vulnerable people to meet their basic needs like food, medicine and social support. If people don’t have family, friends or neighbours who can help them, they can ask for help.

Helpline for people who have received an NHS Extremely Vulnerable letter

If you have received an NHS extremely vulnerable letter you should be registered with the government for support, even if you don’t need it right now. This is because it may take some time for the support offered through this service to arrive, so if you register now, even if you don’t need immediate support, your details will be ready if your circumstances change.

You can register for support on the government website or by calling 0800 028 8327

Anyone who is isolated and urgently needs essential food, medicine, care or social support, and doesn’t have any family, friends, neighbours or community to help them, can contact the Devon Coronavirus Emergency Helpline on 0345 155 1011.

Local help for people shielding

If you need help with food and medicines because you are shielding, ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. You could also contact your local community volunteer group.

If you cannot get the help you need, the government can deliver essential groceries and support. Please register on the government website or call 0800 0288327.

It may take time for support offered through this service to arrive, so if you need urgent food or care because you are isolated, please call the Devon Coronavirus Emergency Helpline on 0345 155 1011.

Devon County Council and Devon’s District Councils have created a local support hub in each district. When people have asked for help on the government website or helpline, our hub team will call them to find out what help they need.

Shopping cards for people in shielding

Some supermarkets have launched special e-cards for self-isolating customers who want to arrange payment for groceries delivered by volunteers, friends or family members.

They offer a safe, secure and contact-free way to allow others to shop for them, without having to hand over cash or share bank card details.

They can be bought easily online and then emailed to whoever is doing the shopping, or printed out and left in a safe place for them to pick up. They can be topped up online, and people will also be able to check their balance and keep track of their spending.

Please visit your preferred retailer’s website to find out more.