Patients with asthma and cancer removed from coronavirus shielding list by text

·2-min read
Some people will no longer be eligible for food deliveries - DAVID ROSE
Some people will no longer be eligible for food deliveries - DAVID ROSE
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Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Asthma, transplant and cancer patients will no longer be required to shield, the Government has suggested in a text message to affected individuals.

An official shielding list of patients who suffer from a variety of high-risk conditions was assembled by GPs and hospital clinicians at the start of the pandemic.

They were advised to "stay at home at all times" and were offered support - including food packages - by the Government to protect them from exposure to the virus.

However, a text was last week sent to a selection of people within the vulnerable group, telling them they had been removed from the programme.

The update initially caused confusion and anger among recipients, whose removal from the list meant they would no longer qualify for the delivery of food parcels.

Earlier this month it emerged that more than 100,000 people were incorrectly told to fully "shield" and never leave their homes, after NHS England asked health professionals to check their lists for accuracy.

Those who received the most recent texts included liver transplant patients, individuals suffering from brittle asthma, certain types of cancer, decompensated cirrhosis, or who take immunosuppressant medications, The Guardian reported last night.

The text, sent from GOV.UK, reportedly said: "This is an update from the National Shielding Service. We understand that your GP or hospital clinician has recommended that you no longer need to follow government advice to shield.

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"If you are receiving food deliveries via the National Shielding Service these will be stopped. This will not affect your eligibility for a supermarket priority delivery slot or any slots you already have in place."

Many patients were alarmed that they had received the text before being contacted by their doctor - despite the Government saying they should have received a letter explaining the decision. Some of the people contacted were said to have initially thought the alert was a hoax

The development prompted leading health charities and several MPs to complain to the Department of Health.

The British Liver Trust said the texts had "caused real worry for patients" and urged them to "continue to shield unless you have spoken to your doctor".

Asthma UK said: "We have heard from people with severe asthma and lung disease who have been alarmed about receiving text messages with no explanation, dropping them from shielding. Some are saying their GP had also not been told. This is an utter mess.

A spokesman for the Government said it was "committed to supporting the clinically extremely vulnerable and all decisions about whether someone should shield are clinically led".

One in 25 people in England are on the shielding list and classified as extremely vulnerable.

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