People who are at a higher risk of being really unwell if they catch coronavirus (people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable) have been previously told by their GP or clinical team to shield or take extra precautions.

You may still have questions about what you should and shouldn’t do. You can find information on this page, from the government website for your country, or from your GP or clinical care team.

For children with cancer there is also information on the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia (CCLG) website.

What is shielding and should I shield from coronavirus if I have cancer?

Many (but not all) young people with cancer were told to shield in spring/summer 2020 because they’re classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

The list of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable is constantly being reviewed. You will receive a letter if you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, but if you don’t receive a letter (and you think you should have), you can contact your consultant or GP.

What are the coronavirus guidelines for people with cancer?

The guidelines for clinically extremely vulnerable people are different depending on where in the UK you live, and they’re changing regularly.

The best way of getting all the latest information is to check the page on clinically extremely vulnerable people on the government website for the country you live in regularly.

Here’s a summary of the current guidance for each country.

England

  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people should shield
  • You should not go into a place of education or the workplace in person
  • Read the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England

Scotland

  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people should stay home, only leaving the house for medical appointments, exercise, essential shopping or medicines
  • You should not go into a place of education or the workplace in person
  • Read the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Scotland

Wales

  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people should stay home as much as possible
  • You should not go into a place of education or the workplace in person
  • Read the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Wales

Northern Ireland

  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people should stay home as much as possible, limiting interactions with others. You’re encouraged to exercise outside.
  • You should not go into a place of education or the workplace in person
  • Read the full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in Northern Ireland

If you need more support during this time, look for the guidelines on support and childcare bubbles for the country you live in, and any addition support you might be able to claim.

I’m clinically extremely vulnerable and I have been asked to go back into work. What are my rights?

National or local lockdown restrictions for clinically extremely vulnerable people will be different depending on where you are in the UK.

Right now, each country of the UK are advising you to not go into the workplace in person.

If you now need to change your working pattern, there are a few things you might find helpful to do: 

  1. Talk to your employer. Explaining your situation and why you’re not able to go into work can help them find a way to make sure you’re safe. They will keep whatever you say confidential if others at your workplace don’t know about your cancer treatment. 
  2. Ask if you can work somewhere else. You might be able to work from home or continue to do that. 
  3. In the short term, you could ask to take some paid holiday, if you have any owed to you,
  4. You can ask if your employer can make use of the furlough scheme for you. 

As someone with cancer, you are also protected by the Equality Act (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Disability Discrimination Act (Northern Ireland). That means that your employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure you’re able to work safely. 

Macmillan Cancer Support (PDF) also have some really helpful info on reasonable adjustments, and a directory of organisations who could help you with questions about your workplace.

If you have been advised not to go to work, and you cannot work from home, you may be eligible for Government support, such as Statutory Sick Pay, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit. The letter you receive from the Government advising you to stay home can be used as evidence to claim these, if eligible.

I’ve had cancer in the past/I’m in remission – how will coronavirus affect me?

This depends on the type of cancer and the treatment you have had.

Most people make a full recovery after cancer treatment and their immune system either recovers fully or is not affected.

But if your GP or clinical team think you need to take extra precautions, you should have been contacted with advice on how to keep yourself safe.

If you haven’t been contacted or you have questions about keeping yourself safe, you can always contact your GP or clinical team.

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