Why have some patients been receiving messages by text from the NHS advising that they are no longer on the ‘shielded’ list?

Healthwatch England has received an update from the Department of Health and Social Care:

“As we move into the next phase of COVID-19, some patients are being identified by clinicians as no longer needing to be on the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable list” .

This process started last week and the Department of Health and Social Care has provided an update to clarify the processes after some people received text messages before a conversation had taken place with their clinician.”

How does the process work?

Clinicians have the authority to remove patients from the shielded list if, after review, if they feel that he/she is not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

On 10 April, NHS England wrote to GPs requesting that they review the list for accuracy and identify any additional patients who they feel should be included. At the end of May, the decision to remove a patient from the list should always be a clinical decision. Clinicians have been advised to discuss these decisions with their patients and mark their decision on the IT system.

Can those patients deemed to be no longer extremely vulnerable still access support?

Where some of these people have been receiving direct support from Government, services have been following up via text to make it clear that they can still access forms of support including the NHS Volunteers Network and will retain their supermarket priority delivery slots.

What should patients do If they are unsure?

If a patient has received a text and is unsure of what it means for them, NHS England advise that they contact their clinician to discuss.

What has the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said about the confusion?

In their update to Healthwatch England, DHSC said:  “We recognise that in some cases patients have received a text before a conversation has taken place with their clinician, causing confusion. We are therefore investigating the effectiveness of the process, identifying where improvements need to be made. This includes ensuring that you are all aware when we send out communications like this again.”