Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Coming to hospital during the coronavirus pandemic

The NHS is open for business and it's safe for anyone to seek help when needed. Your first port of call should be NHS 111 unless it's a life-changing emergency.

Our hospitals are adapting so our staff can continue to care for our patients safely while the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone’s health. We currently have restrictions in place for people visiting our hospitals and you will have to wear a face covering when entering our buildings.

Find out more by watching a short animation to help you prepare for your visit

You can also take a tour of each of our hospitals

The information on this page is available in a number of languages. Here are some instructions:

  • Click on the 'globe' icon in the top right hand corner of the web page
  • Select a language from the drop down
  • Coronavirus information in other languages

Guidance on visiting and keeping you safe

Visiting a relative or friend

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.

Patients are welcome to bring mobile phones and tablets with them so they can stay in contact with friends and relatives. Our teams can also offer support with facilitating virtual visits where possible. Please speak to a member of our team for further information. 

We are constantly reviewing our visitor policy and guidance to ensure our staff, patients and visitors are kept as safe as possible during this pandemic. Any new updates to our visitor policy will be made available here so please check back regularly and follow our social channels.

Your safety

Our hospitals are adapting so we can continue to care for patients safely while the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone’s health. This means our hospitals will look and feel different.

All staff and visitors must wear face coverings or masks, use the hand gel and wash their hands more often, and maintain social distancing rules. When you arrive, you will be asked some questions about your appointment and whether you have any symptoms.

We are caring for Covid-19 patients in separate, dedicated areas in our hospitals, so the right infection control measures are in place for them and to protect you.

Watch a short animation to help you prepare for your visit

Take a tour of each of our hospitals

Zoning in our hospitals

To protect our patients and staff we have divided our hospitals into coloured zones designed to keep Covid and non-Covid patients physically apart at all times. Each zone will have separate entrances and be staffed by individual teams.

Under the new standards, wards and departments are divided into zones which correspond to the Covid-19 status of the patients – positive, negative or unknown. These zones are as follows:

  • Blue zone: For areas treating patients with Covid-19
  • Amber zone: For areas treating patients with unknown Covid-19 status
  • Green zone: For areas treating patients who do not have Covid-19

Twinned with regular testing, effective use of PPE and strict social distancing and hand hygiene practices patients can be assured they are entering a safe hosptial. 

Attending an appointment or upcoming surgery

Maternity 

If you are having a baby at one of our hospitals, or are planning a homebirth, please visit our maternity pages for updates.

Attending an outpatient appointment

To avoid lot of people coming in to our hospitals whilst the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone's health, we have changed almost all outpatient appointments to telephone and video consultations.

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.

Please don’t come to our hospitals for an outpatient appointment unless we ask you to. For patients who need to be seen in person, we've introduced a range of measures to keep you safe.

Your upcoming surgery

Planned surgery has restarted at Barts Health NHS Trust across all specialities.

Before your operation, you’ll be advised to follow strict social distancing and hand hygeine rules for 14 days to stop you from picking up or passing on the coronavirus. Some patients may be asked to self-isolate during this period. You should also try and make your own way to the hospital by avoiding public transport if you can.

Throughout your time with us, you’ll be separated from Covid-19 patients who are being cared for in a different part of the hospital. You will also be tested for the virus.

When you are discharged, you may need to self-isolate for a few more days – up to two weeks for more complex operations.

If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming surgery, please contact your clinical team. You can also read the answers to some frequently asked questions below.

Planned surgery at Barts Health NHS Trust: frequently asked quesitons

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

 
Service  Contact details
Hepatology 
  • For medication issues: 020 7377 7090
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: 020 7377 7088 (9am – 5pm)

Endoscopy

Tel: 020 3594 5743

Haematology 
  • Haemophilia: 020 3594 1769
  • Haemoglobinopathy (sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 3594 1877
  • Anticoagulation: 020 3594 1885
  • Haematology Day Unit: 020 3594 1858
Rheumatology 

Tel:020 8223 8859 (7.30am – 4.30pm)

Gastroenterology 
  • IBS helpline: for patients with inflammatory bowel disease only: 020 3594 3700
  • For general gastroenterology enquiries: 020 3594 3400
Clinical immunology 

Tel: 020 7377 7039

Centre for Women's Health  

  • Mobile phone number for women going through early medical abortion: 07720 948 394
  • All other urgent queries: 020 7377 7307
Sexual health
  • Service call centre number: 020 7377 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 required.
HIV 

Tel: 020 7377 7039

Paediatrics

Tel: 07919 598 173

 

St Bartholomew’s Hospital

 
Service Contact details
Fertility Tel: 020 3465 6093 / 550 98
Diabetes Tel: 020 359 46058
All other services Tel: 020 3765 8000

 

Whipps Cross Hospital

 
Service  Contact details
Appointment call centre (for all queries unless outlined below Tel: 020 8537 6768 
Maternity  Tel: 020 8535 6861
Breast clinic services Tel: 020 8535 6933
Haematology 
  • Anticoagulation: 020 8535 6815
  • General haematology: 020 8535 6687
  • Haemoglobinopathy (sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 3594 1877
Pain  Tel: 020 8539 5522 extension 5360
Opthamology  020 8539 5522 extension 6888

 

Newham Hospital

 
Service Contact details 
Specialist medicine (endocrinology, diabetes, infectious disease, respiratory medicine, nephrology) Tel:0207 363 9013
Acute medicine (gastroenterology, hepatology, neurology, care of the elderly, memory, Tia /stroke, endoscopy) Tel:020 7363 9012
Gynaecology  Tel: 020 7363 9015
Haematology 
  • Anticoagulation: 020 7363 8730
  • Gen haematology 020 7363 9413
  • Haemoglobinopathy (sickle cell and thalassaemia): 020 3594 1877
Maternity  Tel: 020 7363 3302
Paediatric  Tel: 020 7363 9019
Surgery (general surgery, colorectal, breast, vascular surgery, ear, nose and throat (ENT), ophthalmology, paediatric ophthalmology, urology) Tel: 020 7363 9021
Trauma, orthopaedics and podiatry  Tel: 020 7363 9022

Contacting your loved one during the pandemic

1. Send a message to a loved one

We know that having a family member/ friend/ loved one admitted to hospital can be distressing under normal circumstances but it can be even more so when visiting is restricted. 

Want to let your loved one know you are thinking of them? You can send messages and photos to your loved ones by using our online form. All responses will be printed off and shared each day. 

Send a message to your loved one

2. Virtual visiting

We actively encourage social interactions between patients and loved ones, we see this as important part of supporting our patient’s emotional wellbeing and part of patient’s rehabilitation. However, with the current restrictions we have had to look at other ways we could help aid these interactions without physically being there. Therefore, we encourage the use of mobile devices to help stay in contact with your loved ones and encourage our patients to have one available for the duration of their hospital stay. 

As not all patients will have access to technology or be able to use their own devices, Barts charity donated £80,000 for iPads across the Trust to allow patients to communicate with their loved ones. There are roughly two iPads for each ward. The iPads use the App StarLeaf to make calls.

Frequently asked questions on virtual visiting:

How does it work?

A patient or visitor can request a virtual visit by speaking to ward staff, or at the Royal London Hospital site – by emailing bartshealth.familycontact@nhs.net. The ward teams will ask for the virtual visitor’s email and a time to set up the visit. The visitor will receive a video call from the iPad which will be with the patient. Alternatively, relatives/ loved ones can send recordings to the device that can be played to patients.

How many virtual visits can one patient have a day?

In order to be fair on all patients and staff we have set a maximum of two virtual visits in 24 hours per patient with discretion to extend the numbers allowed.

Can relatives virtually visit at any time?

Yes, as long as there is a staff member and a device available, a close relative can visit virtually at the most appropriate time.

How long does the virtual visit last for?

If the patient is unconscious, we would generally allow 10 minutes. If the patient is conscious, we would allow 20 minutes. Staff will use discretion around these timings.

What happens if the virtual call gets cut off prematurely?

We will try and reconnect but may ring you directly.

3. Family Contact Centre 

Please note that the family contact is only being piloted at The Royal London Hospital site currently

We know It can sometimes be challenging to work out who to ask about your loved one's condition and treatment, and it is also difficult for ward staff to answer the phones to family members when they are caring for their patients. To help with this challenge, we have created the Family Contact Team to help to further facilitate the interaction between a patient and their family. This team is dedicated to being a contact point for you and finding the right person to answer your questions at the right time.

How does it work?

Wherever the patient first arrives in the hospital, we ask them who they want their one contact person to be and update this on their records. We give the patient and contact person (if present on arrival) the Family Contact Team email address: bartshealth.familycontact@nhs.net

The patient's contact person can email the Family Contact Team to ask questions, request updates and share any other information. The email should include:

  • the patient’s name
  • the patient's DOB
  • MRN if available
  • the contact number they should be contacted on

Other things you might want to tell us

  • If we need a translator or BSL interpreter to communicate with you
  • Practical needs a patient may have, e.g. they are vegetarian
  • Medical needs a patient may have e.g. they are allergic to a certain medication
  • What really matters to the patient – any religious beliefs, any difficulties they may be experiencing that we may not know about e.g. they are a carer

The Family Contact Team operates 7 days a week, they liaise with ward teams between 9am to 2pm and patient’s contacts will receive phone calls from 2pm to 7pm (updates to patients in A&E could be at any time)

 

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. 

Chaplaincy 

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.

Bereavement 

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. 

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.

Covid-19: bereavement support for families and carers

What to do when someone close to you dies during the pandemic period

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