Transformation Directorate

Shielding and protecting the most vulnerable

The NHS Shielded Patient List (NHS SPL) is a record of patients identified as being at high risk of complications from COVID-19. It provides a means of identifying, protecting and prioritising those who are most in need, helping to improve and save lives.

The NHS SPL was developed using data collected from GP practices and hospital Trusts and securely held by NHS Digital. Additions to the list are made through national rules, identified by the Q-COVID algorithm or added by GPs or hospital doctors. The list is dynamic, with 3.8m patients on the list by the end of February 2021.

The NHS Shielded Patient List is used to provide health guidance to patients, allow them to register for support from the government shielding service and is shared with NHS and social care organisations to inform their care.

Mark Reynolds, Chief Technology Officer at NHS Digital

“The NHS Shielded Patient List was made possible by the investment made in digital health over the past decade, and the ability for NHS Digital to be able to combine data from GPs and hospitals to identify higher risk patients. This, in turn, relies upon trust from clinicians and patient groups that it’s done in a way that balances privacy with care.

“As a consequence of being on the list, shielding people are eligible to get support in their local community with things like shopping and collecting prescriptions. Many have received regular contact from their GP practice to check in on their wellbeing and this group has been prioritised for vaccinations.

“The creation of the SPL is a fantastic, collaborative effort across the NHS and social care and wider government, and we’re proud to support it at NHS Digital.”