In this series of articles, we give highlights from our report Pandemic Patient Experience II, which explores people's experiences during the latter part of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our previous Pandemic Patient Experience survey in 2020 found low levels of satisfaction in the processes of advising patients to shield and designating them as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Patients had been confused about whether they should or shouldn’t be on the list, or even over whether they were on the clinically extremely vulnerable list at all.

The 2021 survey asked respondents to tell us about their shielding behaviour throughout the pandemic. We found that most people who shielded had not been advised to do so. It was more common for people to use their own judgement than to rely on the advice to shield.

Of our respondents who had shielded, 29.5% had done so without interruption from March 2020.

We believe these findings should be validated, and if confirmed should be used to investigate the true human impact of shielding during the pandemic – it may prove much greater than previously thought.