What is shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically at high risk from the coronavirus, by supporting them to self-isolate to minimise all interaction with others.

Those identified should:

  • not leave their homes;
  • minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.

This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

Shielding is for your personal protection.  While it is your choice to decide whether to follow these measures, the Chief Medical Officer strongly urges you to do so.  This is the same approach agreed across the four UK nations.

If you have not been sent a letter from the Chief Medical Officer asking you to shield then you do not need to do so but you should continue to follow social distancing advice.

How to shield 

You should stay at home and minimise non-essential contact with the other people in your household. We would not ask you to undertake these measures if we did not believe they are necessary to save lives and protect the NHS.

You should also follow these face-to-face distancing measures:

  • Strictly avoid contact with anyone in your household who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID19) - these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Don’t leave your house;
  • Don’t go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at your front door to minimise contact;
  • Keep in touch with family and friends using technology such as phone, internet, and social media.

Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services - if you require an ambulance, call 999 and tell the call handler you’re following shielding measures because of an underlying health condition.

To help the NHS provide you with the best care if you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus, we ask that you have ready a single hospital bag. This should include your emergency contact, a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency), any information on planned appointments and essential things you would need for an overnight stay (snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication etc). If you have an anticipatory care plan, please include that.

Clinically high risk groups

Some specific groups of people are considered to be at extremely high risk of severe illness if they become infected with coronavirus. People they live with, and other people they see, should strictly follow shielding measures in order to protect them.

A full list of these groups can be found at NHS Inform - Shielding

If you think you fall into one of these groups, and you have not received a letter, please contact your GP. 

If you believe that you have been incorrectly identified, please contact Aberdeen City’s helpline on 0800 0304 713.

If you have not received a letter and do not believe you are in the highest risk group, you do not need to follow the shielding measures but you should still be particularly careful in trying to reduce the risk of becoming infected with Coronavirus/ COVID-19. You should follow the most up to date guidance on social distancing, which will protect you and others from picking up the virus. 

Adults who are eligible for an annual flu vaccine for medical reasons, will not all be proactively contacted but are asked to take additional steps to reduce their social interactions by following social distancing measures in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. 

Information for shielded groups

Personal details

You have been identified using either your GP practice, local Health Board or securely stored national data so we could write to you.  We would like to reassure you that this information has been shared appropriately within the NHS in Scotland and did not include your medical record.

We will also notify your GP and your Health Board that you have been contacted in order that they can provide appropriate support.  You may want us to provide additional support to you by delivering medication or essential grocery supplies. If so, we will share only your contact details with your local authority (your council) in order that they can support you during this difficult time.  We would highlight that this action is only being taken due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, and would assure you that your local authority will not receive any details of your medical condition or health record.

Carers and Healthcare Workers 

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit, unless they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. All visitors should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when they arrive, before and after preparing food, and frequently during their visit.  

It is also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact please visit Care Info Scotland.

If your carer or healthcare workers do not turn up, or they cannot come due to illness, please contact your local authority’s helpline

GP contact and appointments after receiving letter

In these unprecedented times, GP surgeries are trying to meet the needs of all of their patients and may not yet have had time to contact you as your letter indicated they would. If you have a specific concern or wish to discuss your health, please telephone your GP practice. 

Wherever possible, your GP will provide care by phone, email or online. However, if your GP decides you need to be seen in person, they will contact you to arrange a visit.  

Planned hospital appointments 

NHS Scotland has written to your hospital to ask them to review any ongoing care that you have with them. It is possible that some clinics and appointments will be cancelled or postponed. Your hospital or clinic will contact you by phone or letter if any changes need to be made to your care or treatment. Otherwise you should assume your care or treatment is taking place as planned. Please contact your hospital or clinic directly if you have any questions about a specific appointment or the care you usually get from hospital.  

If you need Urgent Medical Care (that is not Coronavirus)

If you have an urgent medical question relating to your existing medical condition (ie not Coronavirus), or the condition of the person you are caring for please contact your GP practice, or your specialist hospital care team, directly. Where possible, you will be supported by phone or online. If your doctor decides you need to be seen in person, we will arrange to visit you in your home, or where necessary, see you in a hospital.  

Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when somebody is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at serious risk. Tell the call handler you’re following shielding measures because of an underlying health condition.

Coronavirus symptoms

If, at any point, you think you have developed symptoms of coronavirus, such as a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature (above 37.8 °C), seek clinical advice by phoning the NHS on 111.  Do this as soon as you notice symptoms.

This is different to the advice that we are giving people who do not fall into the very high risk group, who are only being asked to contact the NHS if they feel very unwell.  We are asking you to get in touch sooner than we are advising everyone else.

A new continuous cough is where you:

  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour;
  • have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours;
  • are coughing more than usual.

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). 

Looking after your mental health while shielding 

We understand that this may be a worrying time and you may find staying at home and having limited contact frustrating. If you have been asked to shield yourself it is because you are at the highest clinical risk and should protect yourself. 

At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which can make you feel worse.  Simple things you can do to stay mentally and physically active during this time include:

  • look for ideas for exercises to do at home on the NHS website;
  • spend time doing things you enjoy – reading, cooking, jigsaws and other indoor hobbies;
  • try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs;
  • try spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight. Get out into the garden or sit on your doorstep if you can, keeping a distance of at least 2 metres or 6 feet from others.


If required, the letter is evidence for your employer, to show that you cannot work outside the home. You do not need to get a separate fit note from your GP.

If you’ve been financially affected by coronavirus, and if you’re eligible, you should apply for Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this process easier. Find out more at Understanding Universal Credit.

Money Talk Team, from the Citizens Advice network in Scotland, can help you see what benefits you might be entitled to, and offer you advice to help make your money go further. You can call the team on 0800 085 7145 or visit the Money Talk Team website.

Healthy Eating 

For more information on healthy living and healthy eating please visit; Healthy Living - Healthy Eating

Frequently asked questions on shielding:

The SMS Shielding Service allows us to keep in touch with you. It will send automated messages to ask whether you need us to arrange a weekly delivery of basic groceries for you. We will also use it to check whether you need medications delivered, and to keep you up to date with other forms of support available to you.  

If you do not have a mobile phone, you will still be able to access support with daily living by calling your Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713 Please have your CHI number to hand. Your CHI number can be found at the top of the letter you will have received. 

To sign up, you need to text the service your 10 digit CHI number. Please only include your CHI number in your message, don’t include any other words or information. This will make sure that the service can identify your CHI number and check it against our records to confirm you are eligible for shielding services. If you get a response saying that your CHI number has not been recognised, you may have made a mistake entering it – please try again. 

The SMS Shielding Service is automated, so if you need to speak to someone at any point please call your local authority’s shielding support number. The SMS Shielding Service number can only receive text messages, it can’t receive phone calls (if you try to call it you will hear a “number not recognised” message).

You might not need the service right now but if you’re in the highest risk group, registering will also help us to keep in touch with you if you need help later on. 

If you do not require any assistance with food and/or prescriptions at this time, we would encourage you to still sign up to the SMS Shielding Service. The SMS Shielding Service allows us to keep in touch with you. 

If your circumstances change and you require support with food and/or prescriptions, then you can access this support through the SMS Shielding Service or contacting the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713.

When you contact the SMS Shielding Service or your local authority helpline, you will be asked for your ten digit CHI number to help identify you. Your CHI number can be found at the top of the letter you will have received. 

Local services are helping pharmacies to deliver prescriptions, prioritising those who are not currently able to leave the house.  Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by: 

  • Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy, and leave them at your door for you (this is the best option, if possible);
  • Contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713 who will be able to arrange for your medicines to be delivered to your home;
  • If you get medicines or equipment from your hospital care team, they will make arrangements to have them delivered to you.

If you need to change your prescription, please telephone your GP. Your GP may wish to discuss this with you and will then send your prescription on to the pharmacy. 

If your arranged prescription delivery does not turn up, please contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713.

If you would like to change the date and/or time of your prescription delivery, please contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304713.

Through the SMS Shielding Service or your local authority helpline, you can order free weekly deliveries of basic food and essential supplies. These will include:



Coffee     1 x 50g
Tea bags 40 bags
Biscuits 1 x 300g
Bread 1 x 800g
Cereal  1 x 500g
Baked Beans 2 x 415g
Soups 4 x 400g
Pasta     1 x 500g
Pasta     1 x 500g
Rice / Cous Cous/ Noodles     1 x 500g
Fruit 1     1 x 5 count
Fruit 2     1 x 5 count
Shower Gel     1 x unit
Semi-skimmed UHT MILK 2 x 1ltr
Cooking Sauce - jar   1 x 350g
Pre potato (whole, washed)     1 x 2kg
Tinned Meat     1 x 340g
Tuna     1 x 145g
Veg (peas probably)     2 x 300g
Chopped Tomatoes     2 x 400g
Tinned Fruit     1 x 410g
Toilet Roll     2 x roll

Regardless of help you receive from other organisations such as local authorities or charities, if you sign up for this service you will receive a weekly food and essentials supplies delivery.

The basic grocery packs are free, and there is no delivery charge.

Initially, you will receive a standard food and essential supplies box. If you are not able to eat some of the food supplied and feel that the remaining contents of the package are not enough to feed you for one week, then please contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713.

You will have the option of ordering either one box (if you live alone) or two boxes (if you live in a larger household) at a time. You can do this through the SMS Shielding Service or via the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713. If you do not think this will be enough you should also contact us via the Helpline.

Once you are registered with the SMS Shielding Service, you can order a grocery pack by sending the service a text that says "1BOX". If there is more than one person in your household, you can text "2BOX" to order two boxes (they will be delivered on the same day).

Your food and essential supplies will be delivered by an approved delivery driver who will leave your order on your door step and step away, to avoid any unnecessary contact.

If no-one answers the door, the delivery driver will leave the food on your doorstep with a calling card letting you know they have been.

Your delivery driver will strictly adhere to the shielding guidance so will not be able to enter your home. If you require assistance to bring your delivery into your home and to put your food away, and any other support is unavailable, please contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713.

Your first package will be delivered within 9 days from the day you place your order, so do not wait to order once you have run out of food.

After this, deliveries will be made once a week on the same day every week. Delivery times are between 6am - 10pm.

You do not have to register for this service if you do not need it. If your circumstances change and you find you no longer need this service, you can text STOPBOX to the SMS Shielding Service, or the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713. 

Text “1BOX” or “2BOX”  at any time to start the service again, or contact the Helpline.

You will still receive your deliveries if you or a member of your household develops coronavirus symptoms or tests positive for the virus. Your delivery is a doorstep delivery so you will have no contact with your delivery driver.

If you or a member of your household are admitted to hospital, deliveries will continue to your household.

If you require urgent support with food and/or prescriptions, please contact the Aberdeen City helpline on 0800 0304 713.

We are in discussions with supermarket chains to give those who are shielding access to priority grocery delivery slots. 

If you want your grocery pack delivered to an address that isn’t the same as the one on this letter, you need to contact the Aberdeen City Helpline on 0800 0304 713 to give them your new address.

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