Covid-19: guidance for patients and visitors

Patient and consultant talking about treatment options in NHS hospital

Our hospitals are very busy right now but please but 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.

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Our services

Planned care including surgery

We understand many patients have been waiting a long time for planned care such as surgery. We're prioritising patients based on clinical need.

Find out more about waiting for a procedure.

Outpatient services

Face-to-face outpatient appointments are available for patients who need to be seen in person. If you have been asked to attend hospital for your appointment it is safe to do so and you should come as normal.

We continue to offer telephone and video consultations for patients who do not require a face-to-face appointment.

Find out more about outpatient appointments.

Cancer

Our cancer services are open you should continue with your treatment.

Maternity

All of our maternity services are open as usual.

Visitor guidance

Visiting a relative or friend

The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff continues to be our top priority. 

As part of measures to keep everyone safe, we are currently welcoming small numbers of visitors into our hospitals where possible.

We are aware of how difficult it has been for families to visit their loved ones during the pandemic, and we appreciate your patience.

We regularly review our visiting policies, and we hope to welcome you back into our hospitals when it is safe to do so.

For more information on the specific visitor guidance for each hospital, please visit: St Bartholomew's Hospital, Newham Hospital, Whipps Cross Hospital, Mile End Hospital and The Royal London Hospital and click on the orange Covid-19 drop down tab. Our teams can also offer support with facilitating virtual visits.

Your safety

All staff and visitors must wear a surgical face mask unless you have a medical exemption or are under 11 years old. Other face coverings are not permitted. 

Please also use the hand gel available, wash your hands often and maintain social distancing. When you arrive at our hospitals you will be provided with a mask to wear at all times.

When you arrive, you will be asked some questions about why you're visiting the hospital 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.

Many of the patients we are seeing with Covid-19 are healthy, young and unvaccinated like 31 year old Quincy.

Getting your Covid-19 vaccine remains the best thing you can do to protect yourself, fellow patients and NHS staff.

Contacting a loved one in our hospitals

Send a message

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. We encourage the use of digital devices to help stay in contact with your loved ones.

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 at Newham HospitalThe Royal London HospitalSt Bartholomew's Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital. 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.

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.

Support for patients and families

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 information

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

Covid-19 patient discharge leaflet

Chaplaincy service

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 service 

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 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 friends offers help and support during difficult times.

Support for palliative and end of life patients

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.

Coping with dying

Covid-19: bereavement support for families and carers

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