Primary care clinicians are being asked to flag vulnerable patients at greater risk of hospitalisation from coronavirus as central NHS datasets are “not sophisticated enough” to identify all groups.

A letter sent to GPs from Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care, asked those central to patient care to identify at-risk patients who may have slipped under the radar.

Vulnerable patients, including those with underlying health conditions and the elderly, are currently being notified to stay at home for 12 weeks as a preventative measure during the Covid-19 outbreak.

But the letter, seen by Digital Health News, acknowledges that databases held by NHS England are not extensive enough to identify every at-risk patient.

“Central datasets are not sophisticated enough to identify all categories of patients who should be included in the vulnerable groups list,” the letter states.

“We are grateful for the help of colleagues in the Medical Royal Colleges and societies who are cascading guidance to secondary care to help them identify other high risk patients from their caseload.

“We appreciate this is a complex task requiring difficult judgements, and we ask for your help, as the GP central to the care of these patients, in achieving this.”

Patients who have been contacted by NHS England can be identified through an “at high risk” indicator code applied to their patient record.

The code, applied by individual practices’ clinical system supplier, is designed to better inform GPs which patients have already been told to self-isolate.

Suppliers have also been asked to provide GPs with a full report of patients who have been identified centrally as being high risk.

“We ask that you review this report for accuracy and, where any of these patients have dementia, a learning disability or autism, that you provide appropriate additional support to them to ensure they continue receiving access to care,” the letter adds.

Secondary care providers and specialists are also being asked to flag at-risk patients.

NHS England continues to ramp up its response to coronavirus, with a particular focus on primary care.

Eleven suppliers have been selected to provide video consultations for primary care following a confidential 48-hour tender issued by NHS England.

The accelerated tender was for the immediate provision of online primary care to help the NHS cope with unprecedented patient demand as well as reducing the need for face-to-face appointments.

Digital Health Unplugged has recorded a special coronavirus edition of the podcast to keep you up-to-date on the latest news from the NHS and suppliers as the outbreak continues. You can tune in on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Podcasts as well as on Digital Health News.