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.
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
Guidance on visiting and how we're keeping everyone safe
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 or attending a 12 or 20 week scan - see maternity page for more information
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 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 media channels.
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.
To protect our patients and staff, we have divided our hospitals into coloured zones designed to keep Covid and non-Covid patients apart at all times. Each zone will have separate entrances and be staffed by separate teams.
The zones correspond to the Covid-19 status of our patients: positive, negative or unknown:
- Blue zone: For areas treating patients with Covid-19
- Amber zone: For areas treating patients with an unknown Covid-19 status
- Green zone: For areas treating patients who do not have Covid-19
Twinned with regular testing, effective use of personal protective equipment and strict social distancing and hand hygiene practices, patients can be assured our hospitals are safe.
Attending your appointment or upcoming surgery
If you are having a baby at one of our hospitals, or are planning a homebirth, please visit our maternity pages for updates.
To avoid lot of people coming in to our hospitals whilst the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone's health, the majority of outpatient appointments are taking place over the telephone or video.
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, including temperature checks, increased cleaning and regular staff and patient testing.
Planned surgery has now restarted across all specialities. Our clinicians are prioritising the most urgent operations. If they suggest you should have your surgery now it’s because they think that going ahead is the best option for you.
We've introduced a number of measures to keep you safe. You, and the people you live with, may be asked to self-isolate before your procedure, so that you don't catch or pass on the virus.
You will most likely be tested before you arrive at hospital and again before your procedure. If you have symptoms before your surgery, you should request a test and let us know. Similarly, if you’ve had contact with someone who has Covid-19, tell us straight away.
If you test positive before your surgery, your clinical team will decide with you if the benefit of having your surgery now outweighs the risks of not going ahead.
Some patients are having operations in private hospitals, paid for by the NHS and using our doctors and anaesthetists. This is to help us ensure we see more patients sooner.
Find out more and get answers to the most frequently asked questions below.
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
Tel: 020 3594 5743
Tel:020 8223 8859 (7.30am – 4.30pm)
Tel: 020 7377 7039
Centre for Women's Health
Tel: 020 7377 7039
Tel: 07919 598 173
St Bartholomew’s Hospital
|Fertility||Tel: 020 3465 6093 / 550 98|
|Diabetes||Tel: 020 359 46058|
|All other services||Tel: 020 3765 8000|
Whipps Cross Hospital
|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|
|Pain||Tel: 020 8539 5522 extension 5360|
|Opthamology||020 8539 5522 extension 6888|
|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|
|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 a loved one in our hospitals
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.
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 email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.