Disjointed and unclear shielding guidance by Government negatively impacted the vulnerable, says BMA

by BMA media office

Press release from the BMA. 

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Responding to a Public Accounts Committee report1 which found the Government’s “quickly drawn up” shielding programme was not effectively co-ordinated and impacted negatively on vulnerable people, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“Throughout this pandemic, it has been some of the most vulnerable people who have been the most disproportionately impacted and the disjointed and unclear shielding guidance has been a factor in this.

“Had we been better prepared ahead of the pandemic, the shielding lists could have been created more quickly and effectively rather than shifting criteria and suddenly increasing the number of people on the list. At a time when GPs were already overwhelmed, this led to a huge rise in workload having to contact large numbers of people within a short time frame without comprehensive guidance.

“In what was already an incredibly stressful time for patients, unclear communication from the Government and repeated changes to guidance made this a much more distressing and difficult experience, jeopardising the health and wellbeing of the public.

“It is important that any future planning should be informed by better engagement with disabled and vulnerable people to understand how their needs can be considered and how best to accommodate this.

“As much as possible must be done to mitigate the negative impact of shielding on doctors and healthcare workers who have faced enormous career disruption and there is a clear and consistent protocols in place to ensure that those shielding are safely reintegrated back to the workplace.

“While this report acknowledges that some lessons have been learnt, the Government have much further to go to ensure that they protect the welfare of those who have unfairly suffered at the hands of their inadequate planning and under preparedness.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Read the full report