A family has spent 14 weeks needlessly shielding after a letter was sent to them by the NHS in error.
Vickie Heywood received a letter on April 2 advising her household to shield because her one-year-old son Harlie, who has suffered from bronchitis in the past, was at risk.
Since receiving the letter the 29-year-old and her three sons, aged one, seven and 13, haven’t left their home in Sale, Manchester apart from to go in their garden.
Millions of people were advised to shield at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, with tight restrictions urging them to stay inside.
A few weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, Heywood — who also contacted her local GP surgery to make sure the advice was correct — received a text message explaining that shielding was being extended and she should continue to follow the guidelines.
But the mum-of-three was left shocked when she received another letter on Wednesday (June 24) explaining the original letter had been sent out by mistake and she was one of a number of people who had been incorrectly told they needed to shield.
The letter said: “Unfortunately, due to an error in reporting we have identified a number of people incorrectly who may not have needed to shield. We are very sorry that this has happened.
“We are writing to inform you that on reviewing your child's medical record we now believe that your child does not meet the medical criteria for shielding and they no longer need to shield.”
Heywood is now demanding an explanation for the error that saw her and her family shield unnecessarily for more than three months.
She told the Manchester Evening News: “I couldn't believe it. I burst into tears. I have been struggling with lockdown anyway. I am on my own with three kids, that topped it off really.”
She said at times she struggled to get supermarket delivery slots for food and had been forced to rely on family and neighbours.
“I have enjoyed spending time with my sons, but it has also been hard.
“My son is the vulnerable one, he had bronchitis a couple of times. I thought that makes sense. It could have been worse, I could have been going out and then caught it.
“When I first contacted the doctors surgery they said I had to follow the guidelines.
“I would like an explanation over what has happened.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We understand how challenging this period is, especially for those with long term conditions, and are doing everything we can to support patients.
“People are added and removed from the shielding list regularly based on their GPs clinical judgement, with more than two million patients identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable.
“GPs are the best placed to advise on the needs of their individual patients during this time and if anybody is concerned they should be included on the list, they should discuss with their GP.”
Coronavirus: what happened today
Read more about COVID-19
How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
How easing of lockdown rules affects you
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future