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BSG/RCP Advice for IBD & Liver Clinicians on identifying immunosuppressed patients for shielding

Updated on: 06 Apr 2020   First published on 23 Mar 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Firstly, I hope you are coping with the increasing pressures in your part of the service. These are extraordinarily challenging and demanding times.

You will have seen the Prime Minister’s announcement on efforts to try and protect those patients most at risk from COVID-19. A great deal of work has been going on to identify these patients, who will be urged to undergo strict self-isolation for 12 weeks or longer, because they are immunosuppressed.

The British Society of Gastroenterology has been compiling risk stratification tables to identify those at the highest risk. We have been working with the Royal College of Physicians, other societies and the Chief Medical Officer for England, on this task. RCP and these Societies are posting their advice on their websites; ours is here.

The patients identified in this manner, will be added to those 900,000 already contacted by NHS England, who have high risk conditions e.g. transplantation. A list of the groups covered by the NHS England central contact can be found on the NHS England website. No doubt there will be some overlap between groups. The same risk stratification applies across all four countries of the UK.

We are asking clinical leads and their colleagues to identify patients as a matter of urgency, and to inform patients and their GPs, that they should be classified as COVID at Risk.

Your Trust has been asked by NHS England to support this effort and we recognise the ability to do this may vary from unit to unit. A templated letter to patients will be provided.

We are also working with our Third Sector partners to get information to these patients so that they can self-identify where that is appropriate.

Your immediate actions

  1. Identify patients by risk stratification grid for your specialty and record NHS number
  2. Write to Patient with copy to GP to permit primary care coding as COVID-19 AT RISK (template letter provided below)
  3. Keep log of all patients meeting criteria

Thank you for your assistance with this vital task. We will share further information from the Chief Medical Officer for England and the devolved administrations when we receive it.


Sent on behalf of the RCP and BSG