COVID-19 Support for individuals

Support for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

Updated 6 November 2020

The Government have updated the document Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

If you have received a letter from the NHS or your doctor because you are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19 and you do not have family or friends who can help you during lockdown, you can register your support needs with GOV.UK.

The Pendle Coronavirus Support Hub can help you if you’re struggling because of coronavirus.

Updated Government guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable

The advice covers the period of National Restrictions, which run from the 5 November to 2 December. Further guidance will be given after that.

The advice does not go as far as previous shielding guidance. Many people felt the previous guidance was too restrictive. It does however contain similar protection and support. The Government are still advising you to stay at home as much as possible, but you can go outside to take exercise or to attend essential health appointments.

You also do not need to self-isolate within your household, although you should social distance where possible and follow the guidance of ‘Hands. Face. Space’

Although the advice is advisory, you are strongly advised to follow it to keep yourself safe.

The Shielded Patient List

Everyone on the shielded patient list will get a letter telling them about the changes.

The list is monitored regularly and if scientific evidence shows that other groups face a very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 they are added to the list and informed of this.

Adults with Down’s syndrome and all those with chronic kidney disease (stage 5) are being added to the list, and will receive a letter from the NHS. Their GP or clinician should also contact them.

The rest of your household

Your whole household does not have to shield. They just need to follow the new National Restrictions guidance (link) for the general population. However, you should try to stay 2 metres away from other people in your house, especially if they display symptoms of the virus or have been advised to self-isolate.

Going outside

You should still go outside for exercise or to attend health appointments. You can go out for as long and as often as you wish, although the general advice is to stay at home as much as possible. You can travel a short distance to exercise if necessary.

If you do go out, keep contact with others to a minimum and avoid busy areas.

As well as the general advice about avoiding travel in or out of your local area, and reducing the number of journeys you make, you should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport.

School and childcare

It is important for children to continue their education. Even children with existing health conditions have a very low risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19.

If you think your child may be clinically extremely vulnerable, speak to your child’s specialist doctor or GP. If they confirm that your child is still clinically extremely vulnerable, then they should not go to school as long as this advice is in place. Your child’s school will make arrangements for them to continue their education at home.

Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should not provide childcare for anyone, even if you are part of a childcare bubble.


If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, talk to your employer as soon as you can about the new guidance. You should not work outside the home until 2 December. Your employer should help you to work from home. 

If you can’t work in your normal role or do all of your usual tasks from home, discuss alternative arrangements with your employer, including considering using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough). The Government has extended the furlough scheme until 31 March 2021, and you may be eligible if you were on payroll before 30 October 2020.

The letter you get telling you that you are on the Shielded Patient List can provide evidence for your employer to show that you cannot work outside your home until 2 December and to show that you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), provided other eligibility criteria are also met.   

Other members of your household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable and who cannot work from home can still go to work.

The Government has also extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The SEISS Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

More information on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

NHS Volunteer Responders

Support is also available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme.

NHS Volunteer Responders can help you with:

  • Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies
  • A regular, friendly phone call. This can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
  • Transport to medical appointments

Just ring 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support, or speak to your health care professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on your behalf. More information is available on the NHS Responders website

Health care 

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell). 

If you are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, you should continue to access the NHS services you need during this time. These services might be delivered in a different way or in a different place, but if you do need to go to hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place. 

Mental health support 

It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low.

We have a list of organisations who can help you in our Mental Health and Wellbeing Directory.

The Government also have advice about looking after your health during coronavirus

The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety. 

If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health or you are looking for more support for someone else, please speak to a GP and seek out mental health support delivered by charities or the NHS. 

The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to this lockdown.