More than 1,000 Broxtowe patients missed from shielding list at start of lockdown
Many vulnerable patients across Broxtowe were not told to shield until months after lockdown began last year, figures reveal.
The Government originally asked those considered to be the most vulnerable to Covid-19 to isolate at home in March last year.
NHS Digital figures show 2,525 patients in Broxtowe were on the shielding list by April 12 – the earliest version available.
Local doctors were then asked to review the data, causing the patient count to climb to 3,630 by May 15 – an increase of 44 per cent.
Across England, reviews led shielding numbers to increase by 73 per cent – but this varied hugely regionally, from just 15 per cent in Carlisle to 352 per cent in the London borough of Hounslow.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the "unacceptable" level of variation was evidence of a postcode lottery, as the list grew from 1.3 million to 2.2 million nationally.
Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said this was caused by "poor data" and a lack of "joined-up policy systems".
She said: “The shielding response in the Covid pandemic has particularly exposed the high human cost of the lack of planning for shielding in pandemic-planning scenarios.
“People were instructed to isolate, to protect themselves and others – but the cost of this protection was reduced access to living essentials like food, and an untold toll on mental health and wellbeing.”
MPs also found that a contact centre established to trace those who did not respond to an initial shielding letter was unable to reach 800,000 people – and it is still not known whether they had been contacted by local authorities.
Clinically extremely vulnerable patients in England have not needed to isolate since April 1, by which point over 90 per cent had received at least one vaccine dose.
The national shielding list increased significantly again in February, when scientists developed a new tool to assess whether someone is at risk of severe disease or death.
The latest update shows the number on the shielding list in Broxtowe has risen to 6,690 as of April 14 – 4,165 more than a year previously.