We have received a large number of additional suggested high risk patients from NHS England. You may have been identified in this group due to a computer algorithm which includes ethnicity, diabetes/gestational diabetes, weight & height, age and a variety of underlying factors. Many patients may be of a lower risk as information used may have been historical, however, some patients may benefit from shielding. We will be reviewing all these patients, using the COVID-19 Clinical Risk Assessment Tool where necessary, and will only advise you by letter of any change to your risk level. Please update us with your most recent height and weight to help with this process. In the meantime we would recommend shielding as an option but it is not compulsory. We will ensure you are prioritised for vaccination ASAP.
On behalf of GPs at Bellegrove Surgery
FAQ from NHS England:
Q. Why are we only now being identified as high risk and advised to shield?
A. Evidence about COVID-19 and the factors that lead people to become seriously ill is constantly improving.
These individuals have been identified by a new risk assessment model, commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer for England, to predict a person’s risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19. 7
This model has been developed using data which was gathered during the first wave of the pandemic. It has been through the most rigorous standards of review and testing and this is the earliest time that it has been available to identify patients at a national level in this way. We are acting as rapidly as possible to implement this, in order to help inform the immediate prioritisation of COVID vaccination and make sure patients are provided with the right advice and support.
Q. Do we have to follow shielding advice if we don't want to?
A. Patients at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to follow shielding guidance. However, this is advice, and not the law. Patients can choose whether or not they want to follow it.
Q. Are there likely to be patients who have been added in error by the tool?
A. If certain information is missing from a patient’s record, then default values have been used as a substitute to calculate risk assessment results. A precautionary approach has been taken, to allow patients identified as at high risk to access vaccination, support and advice including to shield. Clinicians can use the COVID-19 Clinical Risk Assessment Tool to review a patient’s risk assessment results (more information is available on the NHS Digital website), and can add or remove patients from the SPL as per the usual process.
NB. Bellegrove Surgery will review all patients and will send you a letter reclassifying you if we decide you are of lesser risk – please do not contact us in this regard.