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Shielded Patient List guidance for hospital trusts

You should identify patients who are at the highest risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), and make sure they are put on the Shielded Patient List (SPL). You should regularly review those of your patients on the SPL and consider the impact on their care.

We are asking hospitals to identify patients who are at the highest risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), and submit their details to us, so that they can be added to the Shielded Patient List (SPL).

We are also asking hospitals to:

  • review the weekly data we send to them showing the change of shielding status for patients within their care
  • ensure consultants and specialists providing care for those patients consider the current shielding status in reviewing the care of individual patients

Identifying patients as at high risk from coronavirus enables appropriate advice and guidance to be provided to those patients in the event of a local, regional or national coronavirus outbreak.

What you need to do

NHS Medical Directors and NHS Nursing Directors were asked from April 2020 to:

  • review patient lists sent by NHS Digital
  • add patients they deem clinically at highest risk, as appropriate, and write to those patients confirming this

Clinicians may have received additional communications from their Royal Colleges or Specialist Societies articulating the same process.

We have continued to provide hospital trusts with a weekly list of the patients aged 18 years and over that are under their care who appear on the shielded patient list (SPL). The list is provided to hospital COVID-19 leads who have been nominated by each hospital. The list can change each week so it's important to review these files and consider the impact on individual patients in your care.

The SPL is used to provide current information, advice, guidance and to offer support across health and care to those who are at the highest risk.

As such, it is important that those involved in the identification and review of patients at high risk within the trust and trust data teams understand the responsibilities outlined below. Ensuring specialists know who their COVID-19 data lead(s) are and how to receive the latest information from them and submit updated information to them, is critical to assuring the currency and accuracy of those patients identified as clinically extremely vulnerable on the national SPL.

If you have not received a list for a given week, this is because we have not identified any patients on the SPL under your care for that period.

Hospital trusts should now review those patients within their care. You should consider:


  • whether you believe any patients in your care who are currently on the weekly list no longer qualify as at high risk and should therefore be removed from the SPL
  • implications for the ongoing care and/or shielding status arising from the current care episode for patients receiving treatment and who appear on the SPL
  • whether any of those other patients in your care who do not currently appear on the SPL, but who now meet the CMO criteria, require a high risk flag

New “high risk” conditions

The clinical criteria have been identified by the UK Chief Medical Officers. We have also provided details of our methodology so that the mapping to individual conditions and medicines can be seen.

COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment

The Chief Medical Officer for England has instructed NHS Digital to use a coronavirus risk prediction model to generate or estimate risk assessment results for adults in England using data held centrally. Patients who are or who have previously been included in the Shielded Patient List have not been included in this assessment. Those whose results are higher than an agreed threshold have been added to the Shielded Patient List (SPL). Guidance on identifying these patients when they fall under the care of your trust can be found in the Reviewing the data we provide section below.

Read further information about the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment.

Review of children and young people

The Department of Health and Social Care have written to children and young people patients and their parents to inform them that they are no longer clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).  

Recent research shows that children and young people, including those originally considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable, are at very low risk of becoming seriously unwell from the virus.  

There will be a very small number of patients advised to isolate or reduce their social contact for short periods of time due to the nature of their medical condition or treatment. These patients will be under a specialist consultant and should continue to follow their advice.  

CYP vaccination eligibility is not affected by the changes to the Shielded Patient List. Vaccination is now available for all 16-17 year olds. Some 12-15 year olds are also eligible for vaccination because of the very specific risks they face and the particular benefits they will receive from the vaccine. However, being eligible for vaccination does not mean CYP are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable or need to shield. 

Adult patients with kidney impairment (Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease - CKD)

Trust renal units have already been asked to identify on an ongoing basis, those of their patients receiving dialysis as at high risk, to notify such patients and to submit these patients as high risk to NHS Digital for inclusion on the SPL. 

As outlined above, patients with Stage 5 CKD are now also to be included as at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

Trusts should work with their renal units to:

1. Identify adults (18+) with CKD 5 (or G5 A1-3) not on renal replacement therapy (dialysis and renal transplantation), defined as:

  • a reduction in kidney function or structural damage (or both) present for more than three months (NICE CG 182)
  • a Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) less than 15 ml/min
  • It excludes individuals who transiently drop below 15 ml/min (e.g. acute kidney injury, acute on chronic kidney disease)

2.       Send a list of these patients to your trust’s named COVID-19 data lead(s), asking them to add them to the SPL. When sending a list of these patients to your trust’s named COVID-19 data lead(s), please ensure that you have included each patient’s NHS number, date of birth, postcode and consultant, with a request to add these patients to the SPL.

3.       Send adult patients affected an high risk patient additions letter, as per the additions section below, informing them that they have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

4.       Ensure trust data leads add your patients to the SPL. When submitting patients with Stage 5 CKD, the trust data lead should submit patients under disease category 6 “Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) categories”, along with supporting information to identify the qualifying condition – See section on “Mapping” below.

5.       Ensure this process is ongoing, with patients added and removed from the list in accordance with the definition above. Wherever you no longer think a patient should be considered clinically extremely vulnerable, please have a conversation with them about their personal situation and, if they agree, they should be removed from the list. Please follow the process described above to request removals.


You should write to your patients if you identify them as being at high risk of complications from COVID-19. The letter provides advice and guidance on what it means to be at high risk, information relating to the support available, going to work, accessing NHS services and mental health support, as well as guidance on avoiding areas identified as being in a local lockdown.

An updated Word template for patient additions was sent to trusts in July 2021. Download a copy of the updated high risk patient additions letter.

You should notify your nominated COVID-19 trust lead who will follow the process below in 'How to submit data' to request relevant patients are added to the SPL with a high risk flag via a submission to NHS Digital.


If you decide a patient should no longer be included on the Shielded Patient List, you can request that they are deducted. This should only take place after a conversation with the patient and confirmation that there are no conditions that make them high risk. Once deducted, the patient will no longer be included on the NHS Shielded Patient List.

You should also write to patients who have previously been on the Shielded Patient List and now are assessed as being at moderate or low risk. We will calculate their risk as moderate or low nationally and update the GP record.

An updated template for the standard deduction letter was sent to trusts in July 2021. Download a letter template for patients assessed as not being at high risk, and the new Easy Read letter template for patients assessed as not being at high risk. This Easy Read template should be used in addition to the former where it is appropriate to do so.

When removing a patient who was previously added to the Shielded Patient List nationally as a result of the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment (see above) a specific letter template is provided. Download a letter template for patients identified by the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment who are no longer at high risk.

Your nominated COVID-19 trust lead should follow the process below in “How to submit data” to request patients are removed from the SPL via a submission to NHS Digital. You will need to provide your COVID-19 lead with:

  1. The patient's NHS number, date of birth, postcode and consultant
  2. A request to remove the patient from the SPL

How to submit data

The submission window will be open daily between 8am and 5pm.

We can only accept one submission from each trust per day.

The data must be submitted by a named contact in the trust. Your trust data team should be able to provide details of Covid-19 lead(s) for your trust. Failing this, contact information can be provided to NHS trust staff by emailing:

If you want to nominate another contact, it must be someone who is already registered to submit for one of the COVID-19 related data collections.

All error messages will be flagged in column N of the collection tool. You will not be able to submit the file until all errors are resolved.

image showing the SPL trust template This image shows the template in the SDCS. It includes the following fields:

  • addition/subtraction
  • consultant code
  • NHS number
  • date of birth
  • postcode
  • disease group:
    • 1 - transplant
    • 2a - cancer undergoing active chemo
    • 2b - haematological cancers
    • 3 - respiratory
    • 4 - rare genetic, metabolic and autoimmune
    • 5 - women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
    • 6 - any other category - such as Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), COVID-19 Population Risk Tool Assessment, etc
  • supporting summary (max 255 char) including supporting ICD-10/OPCS codes

Mapping between the CMO criteria and the submission spreadsheet

The list of conditions that define patients as needing shielding was signed off by the Chief Medical Officers (CMO) of the four nations of the UK and should be mapped to the disease group fields on the spreadsheet as follows.

For the new condition “Adult patients with kidney impairment (Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD))”, patients should be mapped to category 6 “Any other category” at this time, along with appropriate supporting summary information and codes to identify them as CKD stage 5:

CMO criteria

Hospital spreadsheet disease group field

People who have had an organ transplant who remain on long term immune suppression therapy


1. Transplant

People with specific cancers - people:

  • with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs


2a. Cancer undergoing active chemo

2b. Haematological cancers

People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD. Severe asthmatics are those who are frequently prescribed high dose steroid tablets.

3. Respiratory

People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)

4. Rare, genetic, metabolic and autoimmune

People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection

4. Rare, genetic, metabolic and autoimmune

People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease

5. Pregnant with congenital heart disease
Any other grouping State NO to all categories

View full details of the methodology used to identify patients who should be shielded including a list of relevant ICD-10 codes.

How to retrieve and review data

In addition to trust submissions, NHS Digital distribute a weekly list of shielding patients who are receiving care in your trust. The lists are distributed via our Secure Electronic File Transfer (SEFT) system.

This weekly list includes patients where their risk of complications from COVID-19 has changed either as a result of being added to the list because they meet one or more of the CMO criteria, or because a GP has added or removed a patient from the list following an assessment of their health.

There are two lists available each week, and you will receive both where you have both adults and children and young people in your care who have been flagged as at high risk from COVID-19.

This list should be reviewed each week. It is the responsibility of trusts to ensure this updated information is shared with those relevant consultants providing care to patients identified and their care is reviewed as and when their risk status changes. Each weekly list is the most current view of the risk status of those patients in your care, and therefore supersedes previous weekly lists.

The list will be available for download via SEFT to those individuals nominated to manage COVID-19 data within your trust. They will be the same nominated contacts who are authorised to submit changes to the COVID-19 risk status for patients in your care as in the section above.

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

Reviewing the data we provide

The data feeds we provide for both adults and children have been enhanced to support patient reviews and to inform decision making about their clinically extremely vulnerable status.

For both SPL feeds your data team receive each week (where there are both adults and children in your care on the national list), the feeds will include core information including the source of the addition, patient details, practice details, CCG details and trust consultant codes. The lists now also provide the following additional information:

  • for patients identified by the national CMO ruleset, we include the disease group and disease code that resulted in the patient’s addition to the SPL
  • for patients identified by the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment, in addition to the triggering condition of “high risk” they will also have an initial source of “Added by COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment”
  • information to identify the organisation and consultant where a patient had an inpatient stay and diagnosis that resulted in their addition to the SPL
  • information on organisations that added a patient to the SPL directly
  • information on recent (within 2020-2021) outpatient appointments that a patient has attended

For children and young people, an additional field has also been included to indicate whether the patient has an oncology and/or immunodeficiency condition by which they continue to be considered at the highest risk by the RCPCH; this will help you identify children and young people on your list who do not meet these conditions and therefore need their “high risk” status reviewed.

Both the adults’ and children’s data feeds include information on all other direct care interactions that each patient has had with other NHS organisations, providing a complete picture of a patient’s direct care journey.

This should enable more informed decisions where a patient has had multiple points of contact with the NHS, and as appropriate, contact can be made with other organisations prior to a decision on the patient’s ongoing COVID-19 risk status.

View the full set of data items and supporting information for the adults feed.

View the full set of data items and supporting information for the children and young people feed.


Further information

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)

COVID-19 shielding guidance for children and young people

If you have any other questions about the shielded patients list, identifying high risk patients or submitting data, contact us at

Last edited: 24 August 2021 2:37 pm