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Dissemination of the Shielded Patient List

Who received the list

The NHS Shielded Patient List has been disseminated by NHS Digital to recipients under data sharing terms of release which set out the agreed purposes for which the data could be used, commitments to secure handling and management of the list, and the scope of onward dissemination.

NHS Digital ceased sharing the SPL with organisations on the 25 September 2021.  

As part of the managed closure of the SPL, following a consultation with recipients of the SPL in October and November 2021 and the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, NHS Digital and the Department of Health and Social Care have agreed that there are ongoing needs for recipients to process the Disclosed Data they currently hold.  This is for the purposes of:

  1. Providing ongoing direct care and support to those people who were previously clinically extremely vulnerable and were on the Shielded Patient List where recipient’s feel this is necessary.
  2. The forthcoming independent statutory Public Inquiry into the UK response to the Covid-19 pandemic (Public Inquiry). Many NHS and social care organisations are ensuring (where feasible) that documents and evidence relating to the pandemic are preserved in case they are required by the Public Inquiry. This may include the SPL data they hold.

We will share information from the Shielded Patient List for planning, commissioning and research purposes, including clinical trials, relating to coronavirus. This will include sharing information with NHS organisations, government departments, other public authorities and research organisations. 


Organisations who received the list

The following organisations received the list:

The Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office received the list for the purpose of delivering the government's extremely vulnerable persons service, which provided additional support to clinically extremely vulnerable people and the local authorities affected by national and local restrictions. This sharing ceased on 17 September 2021 based upon the government’s announcement of the end of Shielding in England.

Local authorities

Local authorities received the list to identify clinically extremely vulnerable people and provide targeted support as part of the local COVID-19 response. This included offering help, social care and support in coordination with other relevant organisations.  

Local Authorities have been permitted to link SPL data with the Local Authority’s NHS Test and Trace data to identify people who were clinically extremely vulnerable that came into contact with people recorded by NHS Test & Trace, and/or identify people who were clinically extremely vulnerable that were directed to isolate by the NHS Test and Trace Service. In both cases, this is to offer them appropriate advice and direct care.

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) received the list for the purpose of providing GP practices with support, and patients in their CCG area with support and care.

Capita

Capita received the list for the purpose of distributing letters to shielded patients, on behalf of NHS England and Improvement, as their data processor.

APS Group Limited

APS Group received the list for the purpose of distributing letters to shielded patients, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care as their data processor.

NHS Business Services Authority

The NHS Business Services Authority received the list for the purpose of sending text messages to shielded patients, on behalf of DHSC as their data processor.

NHS Business Service Authority also operated the Prescription Payment Verification assurance function and following direction by NHS England and Improvement, included those functions for shielded patient pharmacy post payment verification. This was to ensure that the prescription delivery services provided to previously clinically extremely vulnerable patients who were shielding and required prescription delivery support were operating effectively, and to ensure that public funds assigned for COVID-19 services to patients were being managed appropriately.

Gov.Notify

On behalf of DHSC and NHS England and Improvement, NHS Digital’s data processor Gov.Notify, received the list for the purpose of sending letters, emails and text messages to patients previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Emails have been used in addition to letters to ensure where patients have an email address registered with the NHS, they received timely information on their risk status, shielding policy, advice and guidance.

NHS England/NHS Improvement and TPP

NHS England/NHS Improvement and TPP received the list for the purpose of identifying patients on the Shielded Patients List who were currently in prison and who needed advice, support, and care.

Hospitals and GP practices

For the purpose of protecting patients in their care.

NHS England and Improvement

Data has been disseminated to NHS England and NHS Improvement for the purposes of strategic commissioning. Data is pseudonymised and held on the NHS England data warehouse (NCDR). The NHS COVID‑19 Reference Library describes the datasets being used in the NHS COVID‑19 Data Store, and the sources of those datasets.

Data has also been disseminated to NHS England and Improvement for the purposes of providing an SPL feed into the COVID-19 vaccination programme (using National Immunisation Management System (NIMS)). This supported the Joint Commission for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) who identified that patients who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable should be offered a priority vaccination.

National Services Scotland

National Services Scotland (NSS) were responsible for the Scottish Shielded Patient List. The purpose of sharing this information was so that NSS could contact Scottish residents who had been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable as a result of direct care received in the NHS in England, to provide them with details of support they could obtain locally from Scottish local authorities where they are resident, including food parcels.

NHS Wales Informatics Service

NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) were responsible for the Welsh Shielded Patient List. The purpose of sharing this information was so that NWIS could contact the Welsh residents who had been identified as a clinically extremely vulnerable as a result of direct care received in the NHS in England, to provide them with details of support they could obtain locally from Welsh Local Authorities where they are resident, including food parcels.

Redbridge CCG

Redbridge CCG were responsible for the 111 call handling systems for London. The purpose of sharing this information was to support an NHS England and Improvement pilot programme, so that patients on the Shielded Patient List who called 111 and required referral to an emergency department would be flagged as being on the Shielded Patient List - enabling clinicians to make appropriate care arrangements.

Mental health providers

Mental health providers were responsible for mental health services commissioned by CCG’s. The purpose of sharing this information has been to support an NHS England and Improvement policy, so that patients on the Shielded Patient List in receipt of mental health services from the provider could be proactively contacted and have their care plans reviewed. This is because shielding was an extreme course of action likely to have had significant impact on the shielding individual’s mental health before, during and after periods of national and local restrictions.

Public Health England

Data has been disseminated to Public Health England (PHE) for the purposes of COVID-19 vaccination programme surveillance. PHE has a role to monitor the delivery, safety and effectiveness of immunisation programmes in England and required the SPL Data to improve the data set in order to analyse the impact of COVID-19 vaccines for people previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. 

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

Data has been disseminated to the DHSC’s service provider, Paragon, for the purposes of supplying those who were clinically extremely vulnerable and who had registered for a free Vitamin D supplement been December 2020 and February 2021 via the Get Vitamin D Supplements service. 

University of Oxford

SPL data was shared with the University of Oxford, for the development and validation of a risk prediction QCovid® risk calculator to estimate short term adverse outcomes from COVID-19 disease which can be used as a risk stratification tool and to inform national shielding policy.

Supermarkets did not receive the NHS Shielded Patient List. When patients registered with the government’s extremely vulnerable persons service, they were able to request support for food deliveries. It was this information that flowed to supermarkets and/or food distributors. For further information, see the privacy statement for the government service.

Data Retention

The Shielded Patient List was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with data dissemination being underpinned by NHS Digital’s COPI notice or the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Organisations with whom NHS Digital shared personal data have obligations to keep it for no longer than is necessary for the agreed purposes and in compliance with any Terms of Release issued by NHS Digital.  

At the expiry of the COPI notice (or any extension), organisations who had received the NHS shielded patient list will need to securely delete the information held except where it forms part of the patient’s medical record. NHS Digital will issue guidance in the future on the process and attestation that this has been completed.
 

Last edited: 12 January 2022 9:49 am