Local services to supply groceries and medicines to those most at risk
Deputy FM John Swinney and CMO Catherine Calderwood.
By Bill Heaney
Letters from the Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, are being issued this week to those who are at greatest risk of COVID-19, to provide bespoke guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.
People who have received the letter this week and signed up to the service have been texted with the option of starting their weekly deliveries of essential food items including soup, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries such as shower gel and toilet roll, on Friday.
Other measures being put in place include:
* Specialist medicines such as chemotherapy drugs delivered through local health boards
* Local Resilience Partnerships working with Community Pharmacy to scale up deliveries of pharmacy medicines
* Work with supermarkets to ensure priority delivery slots for people at high clinical risk
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “These new services are available to those at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 who do not have support structures around them to help.
“This includes people with specific forms of cancer, severe respiratory conditions, certain rare diseases, recipients of organ transplants, those on immunosuppression therapies and pregnant women with congenital heart disease.
“Many people will have support from friends and family but I would encourage everyone who receives a letter and requires support to sign up to the service immediately – this will ensure you have adequate supplies of food and essential items during these challenging times.
“It is vitally important that people at highest clinical risk are shielded as much as possible, and our advice alongside this text service will help protect people from the detrimental effects of the virus, including disruption to health and social care and key services.
“Our local services must prioritise those most in need and – by doing so – we will protect them, reduce the burden on the NHS and save lives. By continuing to work together, we can all play our part in keeping everyone safe.”
Those in the high risk group who do not have access to mobile phones will be able to register for deliveries through their local authority. Contact details are on the NHS Inform website and can also be accessed through the main switchboard number for local councils.
The grocery delivery service will be led by Brakes and Bidfood with the first deliveries expected on 3 April.
The six categories of risk, as agreed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, are:
1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
2. People with specific cancers:
a. People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
b. People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
c. People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
d. People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
e. People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
6. People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease
Initial estimates of the numbers involved were 150,000-200,000, however, a large number of people have been found to qualify in more than one category, and examination of patient records has identified patients who do not fall into the categories and do not need to apply such stringent measures to protect themselves.