Important information – Scam calls We have been made aware of scam calls where shielding letters are being used as a way of getting personal information. Before you give away any personal information, verify who you are talking to or talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. Slow down, check out the story and if possible do an on line search. You can validate the call by making contact with the person through the organisation’s switchboard. Always look up the contact telephone number for yourself or use directory enquiries. The NHS are striving to protect any individual who may potentially have risk of contracting Covid-19. The latest scientific evidence shows that the prevalence of disease across all English regions has dropped substantially. If this trend continues, the national Government advice to shield will be paused from 1 August. Nationally, there has been a huge effort to make sure that all vulnerable people are protected from COVID-19. NHS England asked that every Trust send out general letters to ensure that anyone who may possibly require shielding would be informed. Many people will require self-isolation and all require a minimum of social distancing but not all require shielding. As a Trust we have sent out a general letter to all vulnerable people advising that shielding may be necessary so you may have received this from us. Our services are then undertaking a more detailed review of individual patients to determine if shielding is actually required and so you may then have received a follow up letter from us advising if we feel shielding is required in your individual case. NHS Digital, which is part of the NHS, are contacting patients who are believed to be most at risk from Coronavirus. To compile the initial list of nearly one million vulnerable patients it was necessary for NHS Digital to combine routine NHS data from multiple sources. In this extremely complex process, the priority was to ensure that vital information went to vulnerable patients as quickly as possible. This carried a risk of including a small number of less vulnerable individuals so some of our patients may have received a letter from the national team advising about potential shielding requirements. NHS Digital have assured they will continue to identify and rectify any issues that may arise as the process of identifying vulnerable people continues. This means that you may be in a position where you might have received letters from Barnsley Hospital and also from the national NHS Digital team that may have caused some confusion. For clarification, the updated list of diseases and conditions considered to be very high risk are: Solid organ transplant recipients People with specific cancers People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell) People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection People who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired If you have not received a letter, but think you should be in the shielded patients list, you should speak to your GP or specialist in the first instance. You should also register yourself for support on the gov.uk website if you need extra help and support. If you are not in one of the patient groups listed above, you can ignore the communications you may have received. If you are unsure whether you are in one of the groups listed above contact your GP or clinical specialist for advice. Your GP or hospital can deduct you from the list once they are satisfied you are not in a high risk group. Accessing NHS services You should continue to access the essential services that you need, and you should contact the NHS if you have an urgent or emergency care need. If you have ongoing appointments scheduled for care and treatment your GP surgery or hospital clinic will contact you to confirm the most appropriate arrangements. If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell), you must self-isolate at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to the NHS website to arrange a test or contact NHS 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access. Mental health support It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low. You can go to Every Mind Matters (www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters) and GOV.UK for advice and tailored, practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing. If you are still struggling to cope we would urge you to speak to a GP. Further information on coronavirus, including guidance from Public Health England, can be found on the https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and websites. More detail on the list can be found at: https://digital.nhs.uk/coronavirus/shielded-patient-list#risk-criteria Unfortunately in some instances letters have been sent in error to deceased patients. We are sorry for any distress caused to family members affected by this. We are working hard and at unprecedented speed to get information out to patients as quickly as possible, because we know how important it is that people have accurate and timely information during the on-going coronavirus pandemic. In some cases we have made a mistake and although we cannot contact you personally we are genuinely sorry for this error.