People deemed clinically extremely vulnerable have been ‘strongly advised’ not to visit pharmacies during the second national lockdown, under new government guidance.

The Government has urged individuals on the shielded patient list to ‘stay at home at all times, unless for exercise or doctors’ appointments’ during the lockdown, which starts tomorrow (5 November) and is due to be in force until 2 December.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that the national pandemic medicines delivery service will restart and run over the same period.  

This comes as cases of Covid-19 rise rapidly across the whole of the UK.

Medicines delivery

The guidance, published today (4 November), confirmed that there would not be a return to the full shielding measures seen in the first lockdown, but outlined extra precautions individuals in the shielded group can take to stay safe over the next four weeks, in addition to the new restrictions.

Everyone in England, including those who are classified as extremely vulnerable, will be expected to stay at home unless shopping for food or exercising, and cannot meet up with people outside of their household.

In addition to this, clinically vulnerable people have been told to ‘keep all contact with others to a minimum and avoid busy areas’.

They have also been told to ‘work from home’ and ‘if you cannot work from home, you should not attend work for this period of restrictions’.

Instead of visiting shops and pharmacies, the document advises vulnerable people to shop online, or get medicines and food delivered by friends, family or a volunteer, including NHS Volunteer Responders.

‘If none of these are available, contact your pharmacy to inform them you are clinically extremely vulnerable and need your medicines delivered. They will arrange this free of charge’, the document said.  

New additions to shielded patient list

Clinically extremely vulnerable people have one of the health conditions listed in the guidance or are considered to be at a greater risk of severe illness if they catch Covid-19. Those who fall into this group will have received a letter from the NHS or their GP previously.

In light of new evidence, NHS England has also added people with chronic kidney disease (stage 5) and those undergoing dialysis, as well as adults with Down’s Syndrome, to the list.

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England said: ‘We have previously said that where the conditions of transmission of the infection alter significantly we would alert patients in relative regions.

‘With the prevalence of the virus continuing to increase across England and in places across the world, it’s right that we adjust our advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable accordingly so they can feel as safe as possible over the coming few weeks.’

She added: ‘Our guidance for this group of individuals has always been advisory, but I would strongly urge all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to take these extra precautions to keep themselves as safe as possible.’