LAST UPDATED: 15TH APRIL AT 12:02
Our top priority is public safety and making sure that those most at risk from the virus continue to get the support they need throughout this period. That is why we have urged up to 1.5 million people who are considered to be extremely vulnerable to stay at home for at least 12 weeks - and have introduced a range of measures to ensure they have the support they need. This will significantly reduce the risk of them ending up in hospital with complications - helping us protect our NHS and save lives. We will ensure that vulnerable and older people in our society are left in no doubt of their importance to us and our determination to protect them as best we can. More people will be required to be by themselves at home. While they are on their own, let’s guarantee that they are never alone.
We are doing this by:
- Urging up to 1.5 million of England’s most vulnerable people to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. The people who are at the highest risk of being hospitalised should they contract the virus –such as those with specific underlying health conditions - will be contacted by their GP practice or specialist shortly with detailed advice. In the first instance they will receive a letter this week and, where mobile number is known, the NHS will also send frequent text messages shortly to those in this group.
- Delivering the first food parcels to those people unable to leave their homes because of Covid-19. The first 2,000 food parcels have already been delivered to those who cannot leave their homes because severe health conditions leave them most vulnerable to the virus. Depending on demand, hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week.
- Providing £2.9 billion to support local services and hospital discharge, reinforcing care for the vulnerable, and meaning that those who are strong enough can leave hospital more quickly. This will help to free up 15,000 hospital beds across England and ensure more staff have capacity to treat people needed urgent care, including those being cared for with coronavirus.
- Introducing a new Local Support System to make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries and medicine. The Government is working with a partnership of the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can start to be delivered as soon as possible to those who need it. The people identified as the most vulnerable in their communities will be contacted directly - including in person where necessary - as a priority.
- Setting up a helpline for the most in need of support. This will help to ensure people know exactly how to care for themselves and others in the coming months.
- Full guidance is available online from Public Health England. This includes the full list of conditions considered to be in the extremely vulnerable category, and advice for family members, friends and carers. A link to the guidance can be found here.
- Launching a ‘TechForce 19’ challenge, providing £500,000 of funding for technology companies who come up with digital solutions to support those who need to stay at home. Funding of up to £25,000 per company is available.The programme is looking for digital solutions that can be launched in the next few weeks, and could include providing remote social care and improving mental health support.
- Launching a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers who can help the NHS support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic. These volunteers will be to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. They will be asked to do simple but vital tasks, including:
- Delivering medicines from pharmacies
- Driving patients to appointments
- Bringing them home from hospital
- Or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home