INFORMATION ON SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SHIELDING FOR PATIENTS
We have received a large number of enquiries regarding letters to patients who are high-risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is a national list of patients who are medically vulnerable and therefore should be “shielded”. We hope to add some clarity to this:
If you think you have a condition which means you should be shielded but you have not yet been written to, you (or your carer) can self-report using www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable . You do not need to ask your GP to do it for you.
Regardless of whether or not you are on the shielded list, if you are still staying at home due to coronavirus and need help, you can ask for help from volunteers www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
There are TWO LEVELS of self-protection being talked about:
We are ALL being advised to social distance.
This is particularly important for certain individuals: such as anyone who is over 70, and any adult under 70 who receives a free yearly NHS flu jab for medical reasons. You can find more information here: Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK
For this group, there are no additional measures beyond you being aware of the importance of social distancing.
This group WILL NOT receive a letter advising them to shield or practice self-distancing. You should already know who you are on the basis of public broadcast messages.
There is a subset of patients who have been identified as particularly vulnerable to problems if they get coronavirus because of their medical conditions. These patients are subject to particularly stringent measures known as shielding. This group of people should receive a letter from NHS England advising them that they must shield.
If you are shielding, you should stay at home at all times for a period of at least 12 weeks. Avoid going out for food and medicine. Ask a friend, neighbour, or family member to bring your supplies where possible. More information can be found by clicking here.
Visit NHS 111 Online
Read general advice such as:
- how it spreads
- how to avoid infection
Find out what to do if you think you have symptoms
We'll ask you a few questions and tell you what to do next.
Certifying Absence From Work
People unable to work for more than seven days because of COVID-19 can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.
Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.
As isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of COVID-19 or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
People who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance because of COVID-19 will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.
The notes can be accessed online at 111.nhs.uk/isolation-note. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone
Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:
- if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed
- to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital
There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
ACAS have more information on coronavirus and can help with specific queries by phone.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport.
- Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Symptoms of Covid-19
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.