Summary of Useful Information for Everyone

Information to support GPs with queries relating to highest clinical risk patients, i.e. those who are advised to following shielding guidelines

Highest Clinical Risk group only (1.5m)

All patients identified as highest clinical risk who are shielding are asked to register with the Government Support website. This service provides three offers of support:

  • Essential grocery supplies – a free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials, as well as priority delivery slots with supermarkets (currently only available to those who are already registered with the supermarket in question);
  • Medicines – arrangements to have medicines delivered to people’s homes by local community pharmacies and dispensing doctors; and
  • Social contact and basic needs – for example, emotional or social support such as people to talk to on the phone or via a computer.

To receive support, people must be in receipt of a letter from the NHS, or from their GP/hospital clinician, advising them to follow shielding guidance due to their medical condition.

Please note, there may be a short delay between people being identified as clinically highest clinical risk, a flag being applied to their patient record, and support arriving.

If people receive a letter, and do not register with the Government support website, Government call agents will contact them directly to confirm whether they have a need, and to help them register if appropriate.

Who provides support to people in the Highest Clinical Risk group?

Central Government

  • Manages the Shielding Programme, working across several Government departments and in close collaboration with local authorities
  • Identifying people in the highest clinical risk group who need support; sharing that information with councils.
  • Provision and delivery of weekly food boxes to those who are shielding who have asked for assistance via the Government support website.


  • Identification of people at highest clinical risk, in line with agreed clinical criteria
  • Delivery of medicines to those in the highest clinical risk group, via community pharmacies and dispensing doctors

Local councils

  • Other support including care needs or social contact, should individuals require it, is coordinated by councils working with local statutory, voluntary and community sector, plus private partners.

Support provided by Central Government for people who are shielding at home

Additional information about Government support available (Highest Clinical Risk group only)

Food and grocery deliveries

Direct to doorstep deliveries

  • Government has offered a ‘direct to doorstep’ weekly food parcel delivery service for all those who are ‘highest clinical risk’ who require support getting essential supplies. This service will continue for as long as it is needed, to protect those who are shielding.
  • Each parcel is based on a 7-day supply of essential items for one person, and includes food items, as well as toilet tissue plus hand soap and/or shower gel.
  • An A4 note is included in each package, explaining that if the recipient has any allergies, and/or religious or cultural dietery requirements, they should contact their local council. The note also asks people to contact their council if they feel they need more than one package per week.
  • Food parcels are delivered by major food service suppliers, directly to the doorstep.
  • If there is no answer, the parcel will be left on the doorstep or recorded as ‘unable to access’, if leaving the parcel would mean leaving it at a communal entrance.
  • Delivery drivers will observe strict social distancing measures when delivering food parcels.
  • Delivery drivers will report on the outcome of individual deliveries. This information will be shared with local councils.


  • The Government Digital Service has provided supermarkets with the details of people who are shielding, and have requested food parcels. They are able to prioritise the highest clinical risk group for click and collect services and/or home delivery.
  • To receive a priority supermarket slot, shielding individuals must register on the Government Support website once they have received their NHS letter, or use the automated telephone line. When signing up, they must request essential food supplies for their data to be passed on to supermarkets.

Medicine deliveries

  • The NHS has put in place arrangements for individuals to have medicines delivered by local community pharmacies and dispensing doctors during the COVID-19 outbreak, if they have requested help with this via the Government support website.
  • Medicines are being delivered by community pharmacies, or dispensing doctors, to eligible individuals who, due to their medical condition, should not present at the pharmacy, or at the dispensing doctor dispensary, and where there is no other person who can collect the item from the pharmacy and deliver it to the clinical extremely vulnerable person’s door.
  • This service will continue until the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided and Government decides that community pharmacies and dispensing practices are no longer required to provide home delivery services.
  • Where there is no family, friend, neighbour or carer, the pharmacy or dispensing doctor team must advise the patient of the potential for a local volunteer to act on the pharmacy’s/dispensing doctor team’s behalf.

Social contact and basic care

  • Local councils are key to the effective delivery of this component of the offer to highest clinical risk patients who are shielding, and who have registered with the Government website and requested assistance with social and basic care needs.
  • Local councils should contact those people who have indicated, either via the Government support website, call centre, direct contact with the council or another partner, that they require help to meet their basic needs (e.g. help with bathing, domestic chores) to ensure these are met. Councils will assess what help is required and how best individuals can be supported, using existing resources or the voluntary and community sector as appropriate.
  • People who are shielding may experience anxiety, fear and loneliness during this period, especially those who have no network of friends, family or neighbours nearby.
  • Data shared by the Government support website with councils will indicate whether an individual has requested social contact during the period they are required to shield.
  • It is for local councils to determine the best way to coordinated this support, locally, working with voluntary and community sector partners.

I have a letter to say I am highest clinical risk and will be shielding for up to twelve weeks, where can I get help?

Help with food, medicine and basic needs

  • Please go to the Government Support website to register that you have got your letter and confirm if you need help at the moment.
  • This government service provides access to food and medications, as well as help with social contact and basic needs, whilst at home if needed.
  • Please contact your local council if you have an urgent need. Local councils are working with voluntary sector organisations and local communities to support residents in the response to COVID-19. You can find information about your local council on
  • Your GP practice or other healthcare professional also can refer you for immediate help from an NHS Volunteer. NHS Volunteer Responders can help you with:
    • Check and chat – short term telephone support to say hello if you are feeling lonely and isolated
    • Community support – collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies
    • Patient transport – transport to take patients home who are medically fit for discharge

Accessing healthcare from home

  • Health at home is a webpage that gives them an overview of NHS services that are available, such as how to order repeat prescriptions online and get them delivered.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Employment and financial support

  • The government has provided advice on employment and financial support on their website

Where to direct people in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Anyone in need (including those in the Highest Clinical Risk group)

  • NHS Volunteer Responders: you can submit a live referral for an individual that needs support or an NHS service that requires volunteers providing they meet the referring criteria at or on 0808 196 3382.
  • Volunteers can provide:
    • Check in and chat support – short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation (note, this is not mental health advice).
    • Community support – collection of shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
    • Patient Transport – transport to take patients home who are medically fit for discharge.
    • NHS Transport – who will deliver medicines on behalf of the community pharmacy or dispensing doctor.
  • Health at home is a webpage that gives them an overview of NHS services that are available, such as how to order repeat prescriptions online and get them delivered.
  • Public Health England have provided some guidance on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Local councils are working with voluntary sector organisations and local communities to support residents in the response to COVID-19. You can signpost them to, where they can locate their council and associated website where they can find all this information
  • The government has provided advice on employment and financial support on their website,