Poor data led to failures in support for individuals shielding due to COVID

Central-command system failed to reach 800,000 vulnerable people at start of pandemic, says report

22nd April 2021 about a 2 minute read
"Within six months, DHSC and NHS Digital should set out a detailed plan on how they will improve access to, and join-up NHS data systems, to ensure quick and secure access to all patient records." COVID-19: Supporting the Vulnerable During Lockdown, Public Accounts Committee report

The Government’s scheme for supporting those most vulnerable to COVID-19 suffered from poor data and a lack of joined up systems according to a new report.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee says that while the Government had to act rapidly to deliver the shielding programme, it took too long to identify some clinically vulnerable people.

Inviting local clinicians to amend the nationally prepared list eligible for support created a “postcode lottery” and led to an “unacceptable level of variation in local additions”

Meanwhile, once vulnerable individuals were identified, the Government struggled to contact about 800,000 people to offer support and register their needs.

The Committee made several recommendations, including:

  • The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) should ensure the way it identifies and supports vulnerable people encompasses a broad range of non-clinical factors and personal circumstances
  • Within 6 months, DHSC and NHS Digital should set out a plan on how they will improve access to and join-up NHS data systems
  • DHSC and NHS Digital should also provide an explanation for the local variation in growth for the shielded patient list between April and May 2020
  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should ensure that local authorities will continue to have the capacity to support the needs of clinically extremely vulnerable people.

A full copy of the report is available here



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