Throughout the pandemic, we've been using your experiences to campaign to make work safer for people with diabetes.
We're delighted to report that thanks to our campaigning work, we've seen many more people with diabetes added to the shielding list in England. This means that many people most at risk of serious illness from coronavirus will find it easier to stay out of harm's way.
More support for people with diabetes
From Tuesday, 16 February, an extra 1.7 million people were added to the shielding list in England, including a large number of people living with diabetes. This will mean that people who have been advised to shield should not leave their homes to go to work until the end of March, and will be entitled to financial support if they are unable to work from home.
This marks huge progress in our efforts to keep those people with diabetes who are at higher risk safe at work. While there's still work left to do, this would not have been made possible without the support of thousands of our amazing supporters throughout the pandemic.
What does this mean?
The UK government has announced the additions to the shielding list using a new tool which predicts the risk a person has of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus. This tool is called a QCovid Population Risk Assessment, which has made it possible to identify people at higher risk through their medical records and quickly alert both them and their healthcare teams.
This model uses more information about your individual situation, such as your age, ethnicity, health conditions and BMI to identify your risk of serious illness from coronavirus. This is something we have been calling for throughout the pandemic, as we think more people with diabetes with higher or multiple risk factors should have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable sooner.
This change means that people who are most at risk from coronavirus can be supported to work safely. That might mean working from home in a different role, or financial support such as the furlough scheme if this is not possible.
At the present time, this approach is only being taken in England. While governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the evidence behind this model, there is currently no way to implement this model. Our teams in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to work to make sure people at highest risk of illness from coronavirus are identified and protected, based on the latest evidence.
We continue to work with the Department of Health and Social Care in England and the team of researchers behind QCovid to ensure this new approach takes all key evidence about diabetes and Covid-19 risk into consideration, including a person's HbA1c.
Find out more about your rights at work and where to find out more about the differences in guidance across the UK.
What our survey showed
In February, more than 1800 of you took our latest coronavirus and work survey to help shape our campaigning, and the experiences you have shared throughout the pandemic have been vital to press decision-makers into action.
In our survey we found:
- Over three quarters of respondents who are in work, are going out to work at least once a week
- Of this group, 69% do not feel safe from coronavirus in their workplace
- A similar number of people (68%) believe their employers should consider diabetes more in their approach to workplace safety
- Concerningly, a third of people with diabetes who are working out of the home have experienced mental health difficulties because they have not been supported to keep safe
- 13% of people working outside of the home have lost income because of workplace safety concerns.
While these survey results are concerning to us, we are hopeful that the new shielding announcement means that many of you can be protected at this uncertain time.
If you have been added to the shielding list, you should not be going into a place of work outside your home and your employer should support you to work from home, or place you on furlough if this is not possible.
I haven't been asked to shield - am I safe?
We recognise that this is an uncertain time, and some people with diabetes you know may be added to the shielding list. It might not be clear why this has happened, and you may think you should be added to the shielding list too.
The QCovid tool takes lots of different factors into account when determining people who are at highest risk from coronavirus, such as age, health conditions, ethnicity and BMI. If you have not been asked to shield, this means that you have not been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable based on your circumstances and situation, and the latest evidence about coronavirus.
While this may put your mind at ease, it is still important that your employer does their best to keep you safe at work. Government advice is still that you should work from home if you can, and if you must go into your workplace, that steps are taken to reduce your risk of catching coronavirus.
We'll be working to make sure that employers continue to keep people with diabetes safe at work, and working with decision-makers to make sure that the QCovid risk assessment tool is regularly updated with the latest evidence.