Shielding update balances risks but swift response required if virus reappears

Niall Dickson

Responding to the update on shielding guidance, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:

“This looks to be a sensible move but like most things it is about balancing risks. It is neither sensible nor practical to keep people locked away indefinitely. The impact on their physical and mental health will be significant. The reality of staying indoors and remaining physically isolated for an indefinite period carries all sorts of risks itself.

"It’s therefore right that steps are taken, where possible, to allow people on shielded lists to lead healthy and independent lives.

"But we remain cautious. The daily rate of infection in the community is still uncomfortably high and there is little room for manoeuvre should the rate of infection increase. The approach needs to be tailored and led by local expertise.

"And we should not forget that members of the shielded community are a varied collection and a significant portion of them are in care homes, and will not be able to take advantage of these changes.

"Our members remain concerned about the relaxation of lockdown before Test and Trace is up and running effectively and before we know the public are complying. We will need to watch closely and be prepared to respond quickly if the virus reappears."

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