Map: Which CCGs have the most patients shielding for coronavirus?

For GPs in some parts of England, just one in 50 patients have been asked to shield during the coronavirus pandemic - but for others the figure is close to one in 10. GPonline looks at how the proportion of at-risk patients varies across the country.

Coronavirus (Photo: Radoslav Zilinsky/Getty Images)
Coronavirus (Photo: Radoslav Zilinsky/Getty Images)

More than 2.2m high-risk patients have been placed on shielding lists during the coronavirus pandemic in a process that has caused major headaches for general practice.

Letters sent in error, patients missed out, changes to the criteria for including patients on shielding lists and the need for practices to contact shielding patients to discuss their circumstances have led to significant confusion and workload for general practice.

NHS England director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani admitted last month that the process had been 'frustrating' for GPs and apologised for problems with the shielding process.

COVID-19 shielding

Practices across the country are likely to have faced significant workload in supporting shielding patients. But the proportion of patients registered with GPs who are in the shielding groups varies hugely, with almost 9% of patients in South Sefton CCG on the lists - compared with just 2% in Wandsworth CCG.

In terms of the average number of patients on shielding lists per practice, the variation is even greater - with practices in Bassetlaw CCG looking after 864 patients on average who are shielding - compared with just 135 per practice in Bradford City CCG. Explore the map to find out how your area compares.

The government's decision to relax coronavirus lockdown rules earlier this month was condemned as too fast, too confusing and too risky by the BMA.

A recovery plan published by the government explaining the move said that in the second phase of the NHS response to the pandemic, shielding could change as the government takes a 'more differentiated approach to risk'.

The document said: 'As the government learns more about the disease and the risk factors involved, it expects to steadily make the risk assessment more nuanced, giving confidence to some previously advised to shield that they may be able to take more risk; and identifying those who may wish to be more cautious.'

One in three patients who have died with COVID-19 in English hospitals had diabetes, research has shown - but patients with diabetes are not being asked to shield unless they have other chronic conditions that may increase risk.

People who are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) have also been found to face increased risk from COVID-19. A Public Health England report on how factors including ethnicity and obesity affect coronavirus risk is due to be published by the end of May.

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How GP practices should support shielded patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

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