Shielding experienced decline in health care use, and at higher risk of poor mental health, during pandemic

A new report, published by Public Health Wales, identifies marked declines in hospital care during the Coronavirus pandemic amongst those clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to severe Coronavirus symptoms and advised to shield; and that this population were at a higher risk of experiencing poorer mental health than the general population from March to September 2021.

This study was based on more than 127,000 people who were advised to shield in Wales (representing approximately 4 per cent of the population). The CEV population was a very diverse group, with complex health needs. The most common underlying conditions were respiratory (37 per cent), followed by immunosuppression (27 per cent) and cancer (21 per cent).

Reflecting these complex health needs, overall levels of health care use are usually much higher amongst the CEV population than the general population. Yet in 2020, compared to 2019, the greatest declines in emergency health care use were amongst the CEV population;

  • Emergency department attendances decreased by 24 per cent amongst the CEV population and 20 per cent amongst the general population.
  • Emergency hospital admissions decreased by 26 per cent amongst the CEV population and 13 per cent amongst the general population.

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