In March 2020, the UK Government implemented extraordinary public health measures, asking over two million Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) individuals to shield from potential exposure to COVID-19 and limit their social interactions.
Shielding can be a very difficult experience, both physically and mentally. If you have any questions or need support, you can contact the Anthony Nolan Patient Services helpline on 0303 303 0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being asked to shield can widen the health and social inequalities already experienced by some patients. Our Chief Executive, Henny Braund, has approached national supermarket chains who have chosen to downgrade their online delivery offers to clinically extremely vulnerable people. When patients are not able to leave their homes, additional costs or lack of availability in delivery slots can have a detrimental impact on their welfare and wellbeing.
We are also continuing policy research into the experiences of patients from a minority ethnic background during the pandemic.
Work and education
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes to how patients and their families study and work.
If you have any concerns about returning to school, college or university, either as a stem cell transplant recipient or as the parent of a patient, we recommend you discuss the specifics of your situation with the school, college or university. They have a responsibility to ensure you or your child can study safely.
Protecting vulnerable workers
In response to the pandemic and national lockdowns, the UK Government has established the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and enabled workers to be put on furlough. The latest version of the scheme provides 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
In line with the initial national lockdown in March 2020, the UK Government is now strongly advising in its guidance that ‘clinically extremely vulnerable people should not go to the workplace if they live or work in areas where shielding advice is active’.
For employees who occupy frontline roles, or whose roles cannot be easily converted to work from home, UK government guidance suggests that their ‘employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible’.
We are continuing to work with MPs and the APPG on Stem Cell Transplantation in calling for the UK Government to provide certainty of financial support for all Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) employees during the national lockdown. They must mandate all UK businesses to support their vulnerable employees by:
- Identifying all employees identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and so at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- Actively offering the option to request they be furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if their roles cannot be easily converted to work from home.
- Helping small and medium businesses conduct this identification and support process to reassure both them and their employees.
The financial support has been made available by the UK Government but not all employees are in a position to secure access to the scheme by themselves. Ministers can work with businesses of all sizes, and organisations such as Anthony Nolan, in ensuring financial hardship for patients and their families is avoided.