Shielding: Questions and Answers



Q: When will appointments that were cancelled owing to shielding (not covid-19) be done?

A: Information on rebuilding health and social care within each Trust can be found on the respective Trust website.






Q: Why was it not made clear that the policy during shielding was not to proceed with eye cataract when non shielders were allowed?

A: It is our understanding that all HSC services including ophthalmology was stood down for both shielding and non-shielding people, except in the case of extreme emergencies. If you have a query relating to your personal treatment, we are able to transfer your details to our Client Support Team who will be able to assist you further. Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Q: How can I get involved in helping people?

A: Opportunities are available within your local community and voluntary sector, we would suggest contacting Volunteer Now via their website:  emailing: or calling: 028 9023 2020. Further opportunities are available on Community NI website:

Q: How can I help people with anxiety and depression?

A: Please visit east Trust website for a full and comprehensive list of their mental health services. In addition, Lifeline is available by calling  0808 808 8000.  Lifeline counsellors are experienced in working with trauma, suicide, self-harm, abuse, depression and anxiety. You will receive immediate help on the phone. Should you need further support we can provide a face-to-face counselling appointment in your local area within seven days.

Q: in light of the risk of possible deterioration in people mh due to isolation is there any planning for this?       

A: A list of services within the NHSCT area are availiable at:

As linked above, plans for rebuilding HSC Services per Trust can be found on the respective Trust website.  

Q: Care-homes seemed to be taking a lot of bad publicity over such like ppe, deaths etc, is there a need to support them more strongly in a planning phase should this happen again?         

A: At the beginning of the pandemic, Nursing homes received funding and PPE from the Department of Health and they are currently looking at rebuilding HSC which will include future planning.

Q: How can information be relayed to those who would fall under the shielding guidelines in the future should the need arise?

A: It is widely evident from the finding of our shielding survey that everyone did not receive their shielding letter at the same time or not at all in some cases and there is a systematic review ongoing for future communications.

Q: why does the shielding regulations change from nation to nation?

A: Shielding regulations are decided by a devolved Assembly.

Q: People who have literacy issues and /or visual impairments received lengthy shielding letters with different communication and advice on the news, various government briefings?

A: Communication has been sent to the parents and guardians of those with SEN’s and the statutory services will have been contact thereafter. We understand that a large majority of those shielding are not online, and this was evident in the responses to our recent Shielding survey.  A number of resources on COVID-19 in British and Irish Sign Language are available:

We have information on the remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users, should you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Patient and Client Council.

Q: What criteria will cause shielding to be reintroduced?

A: If the R number increases. Please check the Department of Health website for regular updates on the R number.

Q: Will postcode data for infection be available in my area?         

A: We would advise you visit the Dashboard available on the Department of Health website for in depth Covid-19 statistics. The Dashboard can be found here.

Q: When will gp surgeries start doing routine blood tests again?

A: We would advise contacting your own GP to ask their plans as each GP surgery operates independently from one another.

Q: Will shielded people get priority flu jabs as usual?        

A: GP surgeries will be carrying out the flu vaccine but they are still working through the logistics of how the clinics will run so that there aren’t too many people in at one time. We would advise you to contact your GP for their individual plans.

Q: Visitor are now restricted to hospital. Can this be extended. As it is beneficial to patients well being?

A: We can appreciate how restricting this can be. We would encourage you to keep an eye on government website for future guidelines on this subject.

Q: One way systems are set up for entering and leaving building again can this also be made mandatory practice?

A: We can appreciate how restricting this can be. We would encourage you to keep an eye on government website for future guidelines on this subject.

Q: What are the key priorities for action for an effective Post Covid Strategy? 

A: Each Health and Social Care Trust has outlined their plans for rebuilding services post Covid-19. Please refer to the websites linked at the top of this page to view their plans.

Q: Some of our older population have started embracing technology to communicate how can we expand and support this?             

A: LibrariesNi have a number of resources available to support older people get online who do not have experience of digital technology. In addition, a number of older people charities are supporting people to get online too, such as AgeNI

Q: How do we address perceived increased levels of isolation with sectors of our population who were isolation prior to Covid 19 outbreak?

A: We are aware how isolating Covid-19 has been for many people, especially those in rural communities and those without access to digital technology.  We would advice those in rural communities to make contact with the Charity and Voluntary Sector organisations in their local community, while those which access to the internet can visit Community NI where a list of charities are available to support loneliness.