Shielding is a measure to protect particularly vulnerable people from contact with COVID-19, by minimising all interaction between them and others. Shielding entitles people to help with self-isolating.
Working with clinicians, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has been collating data from both national and local sources to identify people who should be shielded. There are approximately 175,000 individuals on this list and the information is used to send letters from the Chief Medical Officer to all of those who have been identified, informing them about the scheme and offering the chance to register for assistance with obtaining groceries or medicines.
PHS disseminates information about all those on the list to electronic general practice and hospital information systems, automatically adding a shielding flag to the individuals’ records so that they can receive the appropriate provision of services if and when they arrive at the general practice or hospital.
In addition, GPs are provided with a list of shielded people in their practice via the Primary Care Information dashboard. NHS boards and local authorities also receive a weekly extract of the data. The data is also used for analytical purposes at a national and local level.
Wider Impacts to the Healthcare System
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wider Impacts Dashboard
The COVID-19 pandemic has wider impacts than those that occur as the direct result of infection. There are a range of possible reasons for this, including public reluctance to contact the NHS, pressure on health services, delays to routine non-urgent care, impacts on existing preventive programmes and possible direct effects of COVID-19 on other conditions such as heart disease.
The Wider Impacts Dashboard is published alongside the COVID-19 Weekly Report for Scotland. It provides an overview of changes in health and healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, drawing on a range of national data sources.
Where General Practices have opted-in, the Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (SPIRE) is being used to identify the number of temporary patients being seen by GP practices. Changes might be related to patients’ being unable to access their own practices during this time.
Public Benefit and Privacy Panel
PHS manages the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel, a patient advocacy panel which scrutinises applications for access to NHS Scotland data for health research and planning. Its role is to ensure that applicants have thought through the public benefit and privacy implications of the proposal.
PHS staff in the Electronic Data Research and Innovation Service support researchers who wish to use patient information. Thus data is made available safely for use in the public interest. As well as other research on COVID-19, the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel has scrutinised some of the projects of the enhanced surveillance programme, including EAVE II and the COVID-19 Clinical Information Network (CO-CIN).