Age alone not ‘sophisticated criteria’ to determine next stage of lockdown restrictions, says RCGP

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a query from The Sunday Times about he extent to which age should be a factor in decisions about the next stage of lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Responding to the query, Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The College is not involved in discussions as to what the next stages of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic will be – this will be a decision for Governments across the four nations of the UK.

“It is not our view that age alone is a sophisticated criteria on which to base decisions as to who should self-isolate and to what extent during the next stage of lockdown. People of all ages have a wide range of capabilities and are subject to various risk factors, of which their age is one, that might affect their health and how they respond to COVID-19.

“Asking any individual to undertake strict isolation measures is already a significant ask that will undoubtedly have some impact on their physical and mental health. GPs are finding that many patients who are currently ‘shielding’ are expressing concern about their ability to continue extreme isolation for a long period, and this needs to be taken into account as plans for how the lockdown will continue are formulated.

“When we do hear what the next set of measures will be, it will be the role of GPs to present this information and the evidence behind it to individual patients, setting out the level of risk and implications for themselves and others, and to support patients to decide for themselves what to do. We can strongly advocate that our patients follow official guidance, but we can’t mandate action.”

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