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Shielded Patient List

NHS Digital has published the Shielded Patient List (SPL), which is enabling partner organisations across government to support and protect those who need shielding at this time.


The Shielded Patient List (SPL) is a record of vulnerable patients thought to be at high risk of complications from COVID-19. NHS and social care organisations use the list to identify vulnerable patients in their local area. Once identified, these patients are sent a letter with advice on how to protect themselves and how to access NHS services when required.

The SPL consists of a methodology and associated ruleset, a publication, and our dissemination of the data.

How the SPL works


An updated NHS SPL will be generated weekly by NHS Digital, incorporating additional patient data provided by acute Trusts and GP practices.  Each list will be based on the latest version of the SPL clinical methodology at that time.

Questions about the SPL publication process should be directed to:

Full details can be found on our timings for information flows between systems page

Guidance for NHS and social care organisations

To help NHS and social care organisations identify patients at high risk of complications from coronavirus, we have created specific guidance for:

How we use your personal data

Tracking healthcare activity and outcomes for Shielded Patients, England

This publication considers data relating to emergency admissions, mortality and positive COVID-19 tests for a subset of patients on the English SPL compared with an age-matched sample of the general population. The open data file includes the underlying counts and rates to allow for analysis, modelling and planning to take place to aid the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Related news

NHS Digital article
24 March 2020
We would like to apologise for an error that has led to a very small proportion of the letters intended to notify people most at risk of Coronavirus being sent to patients who have died.
NHS Digital article
24 March 2020
We have recently sent texts and letters to patients who are to be shielded from Coronavirus, to give them the information and advice they need.
NHS Digital article
24 March 2020
Although we are unable to contact you personally, we would like to say how sorry we are for any distress that may have been caused by the letter you have received.

Further information

  1. internal

    Coronavirus Shielded Patient List open data set, England

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) shielded patient list is enabling partner organisations across government to support and protect those who need shielding at this time. This data shows open data about the Shielded Patient List, and how it has been used.

  2. internal

    Shielded Patient List: History

    A brief history of the development of the Shielded Patient List (SPL), from its initiation in March 2020 through to reaching a steady state in May 2020.

  3. internal

    COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment

    We've used the University of Oxford’s QCovid® risk prediction model to identify additional people to be added to the Shielded Patient List (SPL).

Last edited: 25 March 2021 11:27 am