Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Worried about coronavirus?

The health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff is our absolute priority and we have robust procedures to prevent infection and transmission. 

Please stay alert to stay safe, keep your distance. Wherever possible stay at home to help save lives and stop the coronavirus spreading. Remember that anyone can get it and spread it.  

You should only leave your home for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • exercise outdoors, for example a run, walk, or cycle – with members of your household, or with one other person whilst staying 2 metres apart 
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home. 

Please note: These are exceptions and you should still be minimising the amount of time your spend outside and be keeping 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household. 

The medical help and advice section below provides further information on seeking treatment. 

NHS services are still operating both online, over the phone and in some cases in person. Please don’t hesitate to contact NHS 111 online or over the phone if you are a member of your family are unwell.  It’s important that you don’t delay seeking treatment.

Access to care

Those who need care that is clinically deemed urgent or immediately necessary – including all maternity care - will always be treated promptly even if a patient indicates that they cannot afford to pay. We do not turn any patients away.  

Some services are free to everyone to protect the wider public health.  This includes the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as novel coronavirus and tuberculosis (TB). However charges may apply to treatment of any secondary illness if an exemption does not apply.

Further details are available on the overseas patients page. Please contact the overseas patients team directly if you require support or guidance.

Visiting relatives 

We regret there is no visiting currently due to COVID-19, except in some limited instances. It's important to us that you can maintain contact with and have updates on your relative’s condition. Our teams can offer support with facilitating virtual visits using iPads or other technology where possible. Further details our in the guidance for visiting section below. 

We would encourage you to make sure your relative has a mobile device and charger to use so you can talk to them personally.

Outpatient appointments 

Where it is clinically safe to do so, we are postponing many outpatient appointments until after the coronavirus pandemic. This is in line with national guidance.

We will write to you and your GP to let you know what these changes mean for you.

Reducing the spread of infection

The Government and Chief Medical Officer have highlighted the importance of following national guidance to flatten the curve of infection of the coronavirus. 

The curve is the projected number of people who will contract the virus over a period of time. A shallower upwards curve would mean a slower infection rate. 

Actions such as washing your hands and social distancing are vital in ensuring a more even spread rate of infection. This will mean that the NHS is better able to manage and will ultimately save lives. 

The guidance on this page provides advice on appointments, visiting our hospitals and who to contact if you have symptoms. Please check regularly for updates. 

Please also note that this information can easily be translated into a number of languages. Here are some instructions:

  • Click on the globe icon in the top right hand corner of our website page to view this information in your first language
  • Then select a language drop down option box should appear at the top of the page
  • Click on your preferred language and the website content should be converted into that language.

Coronavirus information in other languages

What is coronavirus?

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu and include:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of smell and taste

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. You should stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 service to tell them you're staying at home.

If you have serious symptoms that cannot be managed at home, you should use the online NHS 111 service which can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

How likely am I to catch coronavirus?

For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, the disease is spreading in some areas. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Should I be worried?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness and about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care.

You can help to protect yourself by following the guidance in the tab below.

Guidance on visiting our hospitals

In line with national guidance, and to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, we are not allowing any visitors into our hospitals. 

Visitors will only be allowed into clinical areas if the patient is:

  • at the end of their life 
  • a child 
  • lacks capacity
  • is giving birth

Only one visitor at a time will be allowed in these cases. Please note that some wards may have further restrictions to protect the safety of patients and staff.

All patients are welcome to bring mobile phones or tablets (plus chargers) with them so they can stay in contact with friends and relatives who can’t visit them in hospital. Our teams can also offer support with facilitating virtual visits where possible. 

If you are having a baby at one of our hospitals 

Due to the unprecedented situation we have to take extraordinary protective measures to minimise the risk of harm for mums, dads, babies and families.

Pregnancy: During antenatal appointments (community or hospital) visitors will be requested to wait outside the room. This includes attendances to scanning, triage and day assessment unit (DAU). Where possible please do not bring children to your appointments. We will provide free scanning pictures to everyone.

Birth: One visitor (without cough OR fever) can stay with the mother throughout “established” labour, birth and the immediate postnatal period. If birth needs to happen in theatre – such us with instrumental birth or caesarean - the visitor will be requested to wait in the labour/recovery room. No swapping of visitors is permitted.

Postnatal:  No visitors permitted for postnatal mothers at anytime, anywhere in the Maternity building. Where safe to do so we will encourage early discharge home. At discharge your partner or family member can pick you up at the ground floor reception area by security. Maternity staff will support this support.

Further updates will be posted on the maternity pages of the website. 


Homebirths are generally safe for healthy mothers having straightforward pregnancies, but to be as safe as possible they require reliable emergency transfer services. The London Ambulance Service is currently experiencing very high demand, and we cannot guarantee a timely response should mothers require a transfer to some of our hospital sites. Until the emergency transfer services are back to normal, we are suspending the home birth service at Newham and Whipps Cross Hospitals.

The Royal London Hospital is still offering a homebirth service but only for mothers living in Tower Hamlets.

Attending your appointments

Outpatient appointments

Where it is clinically safe to do so, we are postponing many outpatient appointments that were due to take place after 3 April. Appointments will be postponed until after the coronavirus pandemic. This is in line with national guidance.

We will write to you and your GP to let you know what these changes mean for you.

We are keeping records of all patients whose appointments have been postponed and we will contact them to offer a new appointment once we are able to.

Please contact your GP if you have any concerns or if you need support to manage your symptoms. GPs can get advice from our consultants if needed, and we will continue to provide outpatients appointments (usually by telephone) in urgent cases.

Please don’t come to our hospitals for an appointment unless we ask you to.

For more information please read our frequently asked questions.

Patients with appointments at one of our hospitals should bring their original appointment letter with them in case they are asked about their reason for travel.

Patient appointment FAQs[docx] 266KB


We are making changes to our endoscopy services, following national guidance. Our team is contacting patients to let them know what this means for their individual situation. Please do not come into hospital for any planned endoscopy appointment or procedure unless we ask you to. If you have not heard from us and are not sure whether to attend, please contact us.

Diagnostic testing

We are postponing most non-urgent diagnostic testing, including ultrasound, Xray, CT, MRI, echocardiography and holter monitoring. Your team will contact you to let you what this means for your planned test.

Urgent tests will continue and we will telephone you to confirm your appointment. Please do not attend your appointment unless you have been asked to come in.

Cancelling appointments

If you are self-isolating and have an appointment at one of our hospitals, please contact our appointments teams to cancel or re-arrange. 


Postponed appointments - numbers for urgent enquiries

Postponed outpatient appointments and numbers for patients to contact for urgent queries:

The numbers below are direct contact numbers for specific services. If the service you need is not detailed below or you are unable to get through, please contact the hospital’s switchboard:

  • For Mile End, St Bartholomew's or The Royal London: 020 7377 7000
  • For Newham: 020 7476 4000
  • For Whipps Cross: 020 8539 5522


Royal London Hospital and Mile End Hospitals

Hepatology - 

For medication issues– 0207 377 7090

Clinical Nurse Specialist -  020 7377 7088 (Phone answered 9am – 5pm.)

Endoscopy - 020 3594 5743

Rheumatology - 0208 223 8859 (7.30 – 4.30 pm)

Gastro - 

IBS helpline: for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease only – 0203 5943700
For general Gastroenterology enquiries - 020 3594 3400

Clinical immunology - 0207 377 7039


Mobile phone number for women going through EMA - 07720948394
All other urgent queries 0207 377 7307

HIV - 020 7377 7039

Sexual health - 

Service call centre number: 0207 377 7307
Urgent sexual health including contraception (emergency contraception) and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis can book a telephone appointment via the dedicated ALL EAST sexual health website ( to be assessed then asked to attend face to face if require

Paediatrics - 07919598173

Haematology - 

  • Haemophilia: 020 35941769
  • Haemoglobinopathy (Sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 35941877
  • Anticoagulation: 020 35941885
  • Haematology Day Unit: 020 35941858


St Bartholomew’s Hospital

Fertility - 020 346 56093 / 55098

Diabetes - 020 3594 6058

All other services - 0203 765 8000


Whipps Cross Hospital

Appointment Call Centre (for all queries unless outlined below) - 0208 5376768  

Maternity - 020 8535 6861

Breast Clinic Services - 020 8535 6933


  • Anticoagulation: 020 8535 6815
  • General haematology 0208-535-6687
  • Haemoglobinopathy (Sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 35941877

Pain - 020 8539 5522 Extension 5360

Ophthalmology - 020 8539 5522 Extension 6888


Newham Hospital

Specialist Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes, Infectious Disease, Respiratory medicine, Nephrology, Infectious disease) - 0207 3639013

Acute Medicine (Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Neurology, Care of the Elderly, Memory, Tia /Stroke, Endoscopy)0207 363 9012

Gynaecology - 02073639015

Haematology - 

  • Anticoagulation: 02073638730
  • Gen haematology 02073639413
  • Haemoglobinopathy (Sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 35941877

Maternity - 0207 3633302

Paediatric (children’s services) - 02073639019

Surgery (General Surgery, Colorectal, Breast, Vascular Surgery, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Ophthalmology, Paediatric Ophthalmology, Urology) - 02073639021

Trauma and Orthopaedics (and podiatry)0207 3639022

Your upcoming surgery

All NHS hospitals across the country have been asked to make as many staff, beds and equipment available as possible. This is to help us we prepare for an increase in the number of coronavirus patients who will need intensive care.

In line with national guidance, we are postponing almost all non-urgent surgery, apart from cancer treatment and life-saving operations, for the next four months.

We will contact all patients affected as soon as possible.

This is an incredibly difficult decision, but will enable us to free up beds and staff to treat Covid-19 patients.

We would like to apologise for the distress and disappointment this delay will no doubt cause you.

For more information on changes to elective surgery, read our frequently asked questions here.

Medical help and advice

Symptoms of coronavirus

Please follow the guidance below if you are displaying symptoms of a high temperature (37.8 degrees or higher) or a new continuous cough:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. 
  • if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days
  • the 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. For anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.

If you have coronavirus symptoms:

  • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
  • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
  • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home 
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

The advice provided will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.

Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict guidelines. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that comes into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.

Support for patients and families

A range of support is available for families including information about the emotional and physical responses you may experience after the loss of a loved one. Advice on taking care of the practical arrangements and other help. 


The bereavement service works with families whose loved ones have recently passed away. They can offer help with any legal paperwork, practical information and advice. The service have created a leaflet offers further information. 

Please telephone the relevant hospital bereavement office (see contact numbers below). Unfortunately, the teams are unable to meet with you face to face at this time.

  • Newham University Hospital: Tel: 020 7363 8056 or 020 7363 8055
  • St Bartholomew’s Hospital: Tel: 020 3465 5889 or 020 3465 6892
  • The Royal London Hospital: Tel: 020 3594 1050 or 020 3594 2030
  • Whipps Cross Hospital: Tel: 020 8535 6628

Palliative and End of life care 

The team offer specialist and hospital based palliative care across the Trust. Our multi-professional team gives specialist advice about symptom control as well as psychological and social support to patients, families, carers and staff.

In the early stages of illness, palliative care may be provided alongside other active treatments. For patients at the end of their life we are committed to appropriate end of life care to ensure comfort and dignity in death. Families, partners and carers may also need expert support in bereavement.

Chaplaincy team

The Chaplaincy Team can offer confidential support and advice to relatives and carers as well as patients. They welcome everyone, whatever your faith or beliefs and whether or not you follow a religion. Please ask ward staff to contact us in an emergency or contact them via the Barts Health switchboard on 0207 3777 000. 

During the pandemic we have enhanced and altered our services to enable us to provide you with the around the clock support you need, whether you are a patient, a relative or a member of staff. A person with any set of beliefs will find loss associated with death difficult. Our chaplains provide pastoral, spiritual and religious support and advice. Our services include:

Faiths/beliefs available: Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic and Church of England/Christian chaplains are on call 24/7 and can be contacted via switchboard on 0207 3777 000. If we can’t be there in person we can say prayers on the phone or via tablet video call.

Other faiths and beliefs: If a family wants to contact their own faith or belief representative we can facilitate a virtual visit via a tablet. We can also offer general spiritual support if acceptable to the patient or family.

People of no particular faith: People who do not have any faith but need emotional and pastoral support can contact the chaplaincy.

iPads for virtual contact: This can be facilitated by our chaplains via tablet video call with the family, especially when the patient is extremely unwell, dying or after the death and is unable to receive in person visits due to isolation restrictions.

Bereavement support for families: Our volunteers will be available to speak to families on the phone. Please, leave us a message with your phone number on 020 8535 6988 and we will contact you.

Staff support: Deaths on the ward have an impact on all of us. Please let us know if you or somebody in your team would like to speak to one of the chaplains. We have a 24/7 staff support hotline that you can access on 0208 123 9033

The Nightingale Hospital: Our chaplaincy team are also covering the Nightingale Hospital. Please see the Nightingale website for more information.

 At the request of patients, relatives, friends or staff we can: 

  • offer a listening ear
  • be present at times of distress and anxiety
  • provide scriptures/holy texts or religious materials
  • help in the spiritual search to understand a concern or illness
  • help contact your local faith community
  • reflect upon loss, grief and end of life issues
  • offer support on ethical and religious questions
  • offer religious support through prayer, worship, ritual or sacraments
  • provide advice on funeral arrangements and associated matters. 

Further information 

We have a range of further information and contact details in relation to our bereavement, chaplaincy and palliative/end of life services as follows - 

COVID-19 Information for Families & Carers in Hospital V1.pdf [pdf] 95KB

Bereavement-helpsheet.pdf [pdf] 623KB

EoL Support NUH Pandemic Final.pptx [pptx] 2MB

EoL Support RLH Pandemic Final.pptx [pptx] 2MB

EoL Support SBH Pandemic Final.pptx [pptx] 2MB

EoL Support WXH Pandemic Final.pptx [pptx] 2MB




Social distancing, PPE, protecting yourself and others

Protecting yourself and others 

It's important that everyone follows protects themselves and others and follows guidance around self isolating, social distancing, staying at home and washing your hands on a regular basis. These actions are outlined below. 

Personal Protective Equipment 

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) comprises of protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks and/or respirators or other equipment designed to guard the wearer or those they come into contact with from the spread of infection. It acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viruses or bacteria and your skin, mouth, nose, or eyes. 

In line with Government guidelines, we've introduced a range of measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak to ensure we offer the highest possible levels of protection and infection control.

The safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our top priority. When you come along to our hospitals either as a visitor or patient you will come across our staff wearing PPE. 

You maybe asked to put on such equipment in some instances to protect patients who are at high risk for contracting infections after surgery or who have a particular medical condition that may make them more susceptible to material brought in by visitors and healthcare workers. 

​Please speak to a member of our staff if you have any further questions. 


Social distancing and staying at home (isolating)

Public Health England has created some advice around social distancing and self-isolating.

They have outlined the following steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this and there is also guidance available.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

You'll need to stay at home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.

Staying at home means you should:

  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

A range of advice is available on helping you with social distancing and isolating yourself. Including some handy tips and advice on things to do.

Please bear in mind that the guidance is constantly being updated and amended in line with circumstances. We will make every effort to ensure that the information and resources provided by Barts Health NHS Trust are as up to date as possible.

Shielding advice 

The NHS has been writing to people considered to be at highest clinical risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) to inform them that they should stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.
The letter sent to those people identified will signpost them to the Government’s website where they will be able to register to access help with essential food and medicines deliveries, as well as support with social contact and daily care needs.

 The Government is currently advising people to shield until 30 June and is regularly monitoring this position.

If a patient feels that they should be included on the list but have not been notified they should contact their GP or hospital consultant.
This advice is set out in the Public Health England guidance.

Hand washing 

Everyone is being reminded to following Public Health advice to:
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Stay at home for 7 days if you have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough

Working with the community

Working with the Community

We are focused on supporting our patients and families, along with our staff and the wider community. Together with our local partners we are working to provide as much information, support and resources as possible.

People across the country are also offering their own help and support to help the vulnerable in their communities, including by putting leaflets through doors, helping at your local food bank, at your local community centre/charity or with local faith groups.

Please also see the section on information in other languages and formats. Some of our local partners include -