The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

HSJ reported this afternoon that the government is set to cease its “shielding” programme for those at highest risk from coronavirus at the end of July.

According to sources close to the issue, more than 2 million people classed as extremely vulnerable to covid-19 are set to be told that from the end of July they no longer need to isolate at home.

This also means that food packages and medicine deliveries for these people will be ended, although priority for online food shopping is likely to remain. It is unclear if any additional help will be offered to those people who cannot access the internet.

The government will maintain the shielding list, which has been beset with problems, in case they need to ask people to shield again in the autumn and winter months if a resurgence of the virus is seen.

It is expected people who are currently listed as extremely clinically vulnerable - such as those with severe respiratory disease, organ transplants and some types of cancer - will be asked to follow the guidance issued to a much larger population of people seen as only “clinically vulnerable”.

A slightly different angle to safety today came from Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

A “call before you walk” system to prevent overcrowding and the spread of covid-19 in emergency departments should be implemented alongside a “beefed up” NHS 111 service, she said.

Ms Henderson told MPs that a “triage point” such as NHS 111 should be available for patients needing urgent treatment and be able to book access to primary care, urgent treatment centres or same-day emergency “hot clinics” staffed by specialists.

She told the Commons health and social care committee she did not envisage accident and emergency departments would turn away people in desperate need of care, but said that before the pandemic they were being used as a “safety net for the system” and becoming “very overcrowded”.