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Shielded Patient List: guidance for local authorities

Shielded Patient List guidance for local authorities including the registration process to access data and how that data can be used.

The NHS Shielded Patient List is provided directly to local authorities at county (Tier 1) and district (Tier 2) level as defined and agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and associated Letter of Release. Each local authority will use this information to provide:

  • targeted care for clinically extremely vulnerable people currently outside of formal shielding guidance in areas of local restrictions – to provide continuing support for those people with ongoing care needs and who require ongoing support as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak
  • “Shielding readiness”  to prepare for and enable an immediate step-up in support should the need be identified for specific local, regional or national response to an outbreak
  • targeted support for clinically extremely vulnerable people during a local, regional or national outbreak of Covid-19 where shielding of the high risk population is advised – contacting people to offer help, social care and support, working in co-ordination with other relevant organisations in the area as part of the local COVID-19 response

Upper tier local authorities can share information with their lower tiers subject to some further conditions. Local authorities should contact the MHCLG for further information. Local authorities are unable to add or deduct patients from the Shielded Patient List.

For guidance on how the SPL data you receive should and should not be used, please refer to the Letter of Release below (updated September 2021), alongside the associated MHCLG guidance issued to Local Authorities (September 2021).

This includes specific examples of permitted use, for example, to support targeted communications to clinically extremely vulnerable people about voting options for the May 2021 elections (electoral canvassing purposes are not permitted).

How to retrieve data

Local authorities who do not currently receive NHS Shielded Patient List data for their authority can register staff to access appropriate shielding data via the MHCLG, using their web form.

Once a registration request has been submitted on the form above, your information will be passed to NHS Digital for user registration on our Secure Electronic File Transfer (SEFT) platform. It can take up to a week from submission to NHS Digital contacting you with your registration details and to confirm access to appropriate data.

For those authorities who have already registered, your local authority data team should be able to provide details of SPL data lead(s) for your organisation. Failing this, contact information can be provided to local authority staff in the requesting authority by emailing:  

If you want to nominate another local authority contact or amend an existing contact, any change must be requested by someone who is already registered to retrieve and access SPL data for your organisation. Requests to add or amend those who can access the SPL data for your local authority should be submitted to by an existing registered contact.

The SPL data will be available for download via SEFT each week to those individuals nominated to manage SPL data within your local authority.

Log into the SEFT website

We would recommend that you use Internet Explorer 11 and Java version 8 when using the transfer tool. You'll have to add the link to the website in your 'Compatibility View Settings'.  

If you have any questions about those people who can submit and retrieve data on your organisation’s behalf, please contact

How to automate SPL data extraction

If you would like to set up automated extraction of SPL data from SEFT for your local authority, an authorised local authority contact should send a request to: Once NHS Digital have completed the work necessary to enable your local authority account for automated extraction, this guidance, creating automated SFTP transfers, can be used to set up the extraction process.

How to use the data

The NHS SPL issued to local authorities each week includes all those patients currently on the list who live within the local authority’s boundary.

The list is dynamic and changes each week to reflect the changing status of patients’ risk from COVID-19 infection. Individuals are added to and deducted from the high-risk category each week by the national rule set, their GP or hospital consultant depending on their changing health circumstances.

To aid local support planning and management arrangements for CEV patients, the SPL also includes a means of identifying those removed (deducted) and those added through time.

The fields included in each record are listed in the technical output specification for local authority extracts.

Your local authority SPL data should be reviewed each week. It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure the most up to date information is used in planning and delivering appropriate local support for clinically extremely vulnerable people. Each weekly list is the most current view of the risk status of those on the list, and therefore supersedes previous weekly lists.


Those patients most recently added to the list can be identified by the Inception Date and also by Category flag, for example: “Added by GP”, “Added by algorithm”, “Added by Trust” or “Added by COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment”. This is to help local authorities identify new patients who may need contact and support since the previous version of the list.

For all other patients remaining on the SPL, the Category will state: “No change to current status”


Those patients deducted from the list can be identified using the “Category” (Status) flag. For patients removed in current week, the Category flag will indicate the reason for deduction. For those patients removed historically the Category flag will include the reason plus “in prior version”.

Letter of Release for local authorities

Last edited: 15 October 2021 10:01 am