Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Our services during the coronavirus pandemic

Our hospitals are very busy right now but please be assured that the NHS is open for business and it's safe for you to seek help when needed. Your first port of call should be NHS 111 unless it's a life-changing emergency.

Elective surgery is currently postponed

Like other London NHS trusts, and to help us manage the high numbers of patients we are seeing, we are now standing down routine planned care and redeploying staff to critical care and covid wards. This means postponing all elective operations. 

Patients whose procedures need to be postponed will be contacted as soon as possible.

Changes to outpatient services

Due to the high number of people requiring hospital treatment for Covid-19, we are postponing many of our outpatient appointments.

Some appointments will be converted to telephone or video consultations. We will contact you to let you know if there are any changes to your appointment.

If you have been asked to attend hospital for your outpatient appointment, it is safe to do so and you should attend as normal.

A series of frequently asked questions are available on this page.

Maternity

All of our maternity services are open as usual.

Cancer

Our cancer services are still running and you should continue with your treatment.

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Visitor guidance and how we're keeping you safe

Visiting a relative or friend

To ensure the safety of our patients and staff, we are not currently allowing any visitors into our hospitals. You must therefore attend your appointment alone, unless you need support for mobility or accessibility reasons.

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

  • at the end of their life 
  • a child 
  • lacks capacity
  • having a baby - 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. 

Our teams can also offer support with facilitating virtual visits. Please speak to a nurse 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.

Find out more on visiting our hospitals during the pandemic

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.

All staff and visitors must wear a surgical face mask (e.g. disposable, single-use masks which are composed of 3 layers), use the hand gel and wash their hands more often and maintain social distancing. When you arrive at our hospitals you will be provided with a mask to wear at all times. Face coverings will no longer be allowed. 

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 areas of 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

Find out how we're keeping cancer patients safe during Covid-19

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 a loved one in our hospitals

Send a message to a loved one

We know that having a loved on admitted to hospital is distressing under normal circumstances, but it can be even more so when visiting is restricted. 

You can send messages and photos to your loved ones using our online form. All responses will be printed off and shared each day. 

Send a message to your loved one

Virtual visiting

Visitors are an important part of supporting our patients' wellbeing and rehabilitation. However, with the current restrictions in place, we've had to explore alternatives. We encourage the use of digital devices to help stay in contact with your loved ones and encourage our patients to have one available for the duration of their stay. 

As not all patients will have access to technology, we have a number of iPads which allow patients to communicate with their loved ones, using the StarLeaf app.

Virtual visiting: frequently asked questions

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 per 24 hour period per patient.

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 ten minutes for this. If the patient is conscious, we 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.

Family Contact Centre

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

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 centre 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?

When a patient first arrives, we ask them who they want their contact person to be and update this on their records. We give the patient and contact person (if present on arrival) the family contact centre email address: bartshealth.familycontact@nhs.net

The patient's contact person can email the family contact centre 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 service operates seven 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 patients and 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. 

Understanding common Covid treatments

A series of short films explain how patients are treated for Covid-19 in intensive care in our hospitals.

The animations, which are available through the Explain my Procedure website show what goes on in an intensive care unit or ICU, from the role of staff to common treatments such as mechanical ventilation and a tracheostomy.

Discharge 

We have created a leaflet designed to offer advice to patients and families following discharge from hospital. 

Covid-19 patient discharge leaflet

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

Our leaflet for bereaved families and freinds offers help and support during difficult times. 

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

Coping with dying