THE end of coronavirus rules could impact society’s most vulnerable people, including tens of thousands in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, charities have warned.

A group representing vulnerable families said a "lack of guidance" from the Government was concerning for the millions of people in England formerly advised to shield to avoid the risk of Covid infection.

NHS Digital figures show 9,185 patients in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable in April 2020 – shortly after they were first added to the shielding list.

By the time the shielding programme came to an end, on September 30, this had risen to 26,285 in the area.

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Of those previously identified as most at risk in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, 21 per cent were aged between 80-89 – the largest proportion of all age groups.

They were among 3.7 million people across England classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” at the time, though the Government said the term is no longer used.

The most common reason people in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were classed as vulnerable was because they were identified by an Oxford University tool, which assesses multiple factors to determine whether someone is at risk, such as their age, weight and ethnicity.

This applied to 47 per cent of patients in the area, where a reason was provided, and was followed by those with respiratory conditions that cause breathing difficulties (18 per cent).

A further nine per cent had rare genetic metabolic and autoimmune diseases.

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Disability charity Scope said many disabled people would feel forgotten by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s strategy, which also included plans to scrap free universal testing in April.

James Taylor, director at the charity, said: “Disabled people having to rely on the personal choices of others and having no control over their own freedom and safety isn’t ‘living with Covid’, it’s living with fear. Ending self-isolation and phasing out testing will leave some disabled people rolling the dice every time they leave the house.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said it was important people at higher risk from Covid received the right advice.

A spokeswoman said: “This may be particularly important for those whose immune system means that they are at higher risk. Vaccines are the best way we can protect ourselves from the virus and we continue to urge all those eligible to get boosted now.”