Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

Coronavirus: guidance for patients and visitors

We are here for you

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.

Translate our website

  • 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

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

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.

Outpatient services

We have restarted routine face-to-face outpatient appointments across many of our services 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 attend 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.

Maternity

All of our maternity services are open as usual.

Cancer

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

Urgent enquiries about your appointment

Get in touch with one of the team if you have an urgent enquiry.

Visitor guidance and how we're keeping you safe

Visiting a relative or friend

We are currently reviewing our visitor policy in line with the new national visiting guidance issued in March 2021. We are aware of how difficult it has been for families to visit their loved ones during the pandemic and this new guidance advises on how we can ease some of the current restrictions in a safe way.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff continues to be our top priority and therefore changes to our visitor policy will be gradual and only be made where we can maintain all necessary infection prevention and control measures. More information on the updated visitor guidance for each of our hospitals will be shared shortly.

 In the meantime, please continue to follow our current guidance outlined below.

Guidance

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

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

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.

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 available, 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 are not acceptable. 

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.

Watch a short animation to help you prepare for your visit

Take a tour of each of our hospitals

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 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

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