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Shielders told to shield – but only up to a point

05 November 2020

A second lockdown is now running from 5 November to 2 December. New guidance has been issued to shielders, but falls short of the fuller protections offered back in the Spring.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “The bitter irony of the Prime Minister insisting in his address to the nation that it would be a “medical and moral disaster” if the country did not go into lockdown is not lost on us. The fact is, morally, the government has left addressing shielders until the last minute during this lockdown. The support offered is disjointed and not ‘oven ready’. And medically the government has failed to ensure that non-Covid related medical treatments will continue to be made available with ever increasing waiting times, resulting in nearly 13,000 extra deaths to date, not related to the virus.

“New guidance has been issued to shielders. But this time, the government is advising people it previously regarded as so vulnerable as to maintain strict shielding to basically carry on as per the new normal but at distance.

“There were 2.2 million people on the last shielders list. More categories of ‘vulnerability’ have been added to the list for this lockdown, including Down’s syndrome and those with Chronic Kidney Disease stage 5 (CKD5).

 “There is less support from supermarkets for food deliveries this time round – we know that some have changed their terms and conditions, which will affect shielding disabled people on low incomes. And we know there is a waiting period once new shielders sign up for home delivery help. What do they do in the meantime?

“We know that not all workplaces are providing adequate safety measures. There is no extra provision beyond Statutory Sick Pay and benefits for those who need to shield instead of work for the coming month.

“And the government is advising that children go to school as they do not tend to suffer adverse effects from the virus – ignoring the fact that they are one of the principal vectors – something which again places adult shielders in families at greater risk.

“All information has been shared electronically. The government needs to get a handle on the fact that many disabled and older people do not and cannot use online resources to access information – hard copies, phone calls, or face to face information must be part of the communication strategy.

“Local government is being given a cash boost to provide more help to shielders. But the emphasis is on shielders to seek this out, through complex websites, rather than being sent the help, or information about the help they need directly.”