Following the recent relaxation of the lockdown rules by the Government, many patients asked the IBD Team if we still needed to stick to the 12 week shielding/self-isolation advice.
Dr Wu has responded:
Dear All, We have had several queries from our IBD patients seeking clarity about how the government's partial relaxation of 'lockdown' rules affects them.
At present, there, unfortunately have not been any updated guidance relating to shielding/enhanced social distance from Public Health England (PHE) for 'vulnerable patients' and the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) for IBD patients. Therefore we recommend continuation of such measures if you fall into one of these categories until further notice.
Some of the patients have also expressed confusion regarding risk stratification of their IBD and the associated advice to 'shield' vs 'enhanced social distancing'. This stems from two sources of guidance, which slightly differ; PHE and BSG. The latter risk stratification table is published on the Crohn's and Colitis UK (CCUK) website. Broadly speaking, vulnerable patients that have been advised to 'shield' by PHE captures both the 'moderate' and 'high' risk IBD patients using the BSG classification. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frimley Park Hospital aligned with PHE guidance as our aim was to ensure the safety of all our patients. Moreover, risk categories may change depending on IBD activity and/medication change(s), which may affect shielding requirements. We felt this potential for confusion may unnecessarily increase one's risk during these uncertain times.
We understand how worrying and frustrating lockdown has been and also recognise the psychological burden such measures is likely to have placed on everyone. We are here to help if required. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank and commend everyone on your adherence so far and urge you to continue for the time-being whilst we navigate our way through this crisis.
On a more positive note, these difficult times have required us to work differently (perhaps smarter) and re-evaluate our IBD service. We are using this to change and improve what we deliver. Speaking on a personal note, I have really valued all your input into our service and hope that going forwards, we can work collaboratively to further improve the care we deliver. All thoughts welcome.
I hope that this clarifies any questions people may have and welcome any others that you may have.
With best wishes Dr Jian Wu on behalf of FPH IBD team