Advice for the general public and vulnerable people

We know this is a difficult time for our patients, and their families, friends and carers but we are here to help in any way we can. Please find below COVID-19 (coronavirus) advice for vulnerable people and the general public in line with latest government guidance.

Advice for vulnerable patients who are shielding

Shielding is a measure that was put in place to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and everybody else. Shielding will have affected many Royal Free London patients and if you fall into this category, you will have received a letter and/or text from the NHS with details on shielding.

The government has reviewed its guidance for those shielding. This will be relaxed in two stages:

From 6 July, the clinically extremely vulnerable may, if they wish:

  • meet in a group of up to six people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing
  • no longer observe social distancing with other members of their household
  • form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other's homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

All other shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time.

From 1 August, the guidance will be further relaxed to include the following:  

  • people can go to work, if they cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
  • people can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but should maintain strict social distancing

You should remain cautious as there is still a risk of severe illness if you catch COVID-19. Please stay at home where possible and if you do go out, follow strict social distancing. This means minimising contact with others outside your household or support bubble and keeping two metres apart.

The current advice can be found on GOV.UK website here.

In addition to this, please read our information leaflet 'Your wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic'. This leaflet is for vulnerable patients who are sheilding, but others may find the information helpful as well. It contains some top tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and signposts to other available resources.

We also have a COVID-19 information page which provides the latest information about the trust and our services during the pandemic here.

Food supplies and support services for vulnerable people

A list of services that can offer help with food shopping and other practical support if you need to self-isolate or have been recently discharged from hospital during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is available here. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and services will vary by area. Please refer to the organisations directly for further advice.

Advice for the general public

The government’s guidance about COVID-19 is regularly updating and it is important to keep up to date with the latest information. The most up to date advice can be found here

Symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do

Do not leave your home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in a 24 hour period (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

  1. For advice on the next steps please visit:
  2. If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse, please visit: If you cannot get help online, please call 111.

How to stop the infection spreading

The NHS has provided further information about how coronavirus is spread, and what you can do to avoid catching it. This includes the following advice:

  • wash you hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get back home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

The Department of Health has produced a film with information about people can prevent the spread of infections: