Important information for patients and visitors

Visitors

Our hospitals are adapting so our staff can continue to treat and care for our patients safely while the coronavirus remains a threat to everyone’s health. We are currently restricting visitors to 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. Some wards may have further restrictions to protect the safety of patients and staff. Case-by-case exceptions need to be discussed with the nurse in charge.

Do not enter our hospitals if:

  • you have a cough, cold, any ‘flu-like symptoms or infectious illnesses like diarrhoea or vomiting
  • you have a continuous cough or high temperature - go home, self-isolate for 7 days, and seek advice from NHS 111 online
  •  a loss of sense of smell or taste. 

Read more about visiting our hospitals during the pandemic

Your safety

If you need to visit us, our hospitals will look and feel different. The videos below explain some of the changes we have made.

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 (known as zones), so the right infection control measures are in place for them.

Take a tour of each of our hospitals

Watch a short animation to help you prepare for your visit

Face coverings 

All visitors to our hospitals must wear face coverings to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

This should be worn upon arrival and in waiting areas, including corridors, cafes and restaurants. For visitors without a face covering, disposal surgical face masks will be provided.

Attending your outpatient appointment

You should not come into our hospitals for an appointment unless you told to do so.

We are providing telephone and video consultations to most patients and our teams will contact you to confirm these arrangements.

Further information on telephone and video consultations

Cancel, change or talk to us about your appointment

Your planned surgery

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.

Planned surgery at Barts Health: frequently asked quesitons

Attending your maternity appointment

All of our maternity services are open as usual. However, there are some restrictions on visiting. This means that visitors will only be allowed into clinical areas if the patient is giving birth.

Find out more about maternity services at Barts Health

Your inpatient stay

You may need to stay in one of our hospitals for treatment or a procedure.

When you arrive

Will I be looked after in a mixed-sex ward?

We understand how important your privacy is and our priority is to ensure that you are cared for in single-sex facilities. The majority of the wards in our hospitals are single sex, or, in some cases, mixed wards with single sex bays.

There may be some cases, particularly in emergencies, where we can’t provide single-sex accommodation. This is most likely to happen if you need to be looked after in an emergency or intensive care ward, or a high dependency or observation unit.

Is it okay to ask lots of questions?

We want you to become involved in your health care and play an active part in decision making. It’s important that you understand all the information you are given to ensure you are clear about your diagnosis/condition and tests or treatment. Whether you want to know more about your condition, or the tests you might need, or the treatment options available, we’ll always make time to listen.

I’m an overseas visitor – will I have to pay for my treatment?

Yes, the NHS charges overseas patients, unless they are exempt. Ward staff or the Paying Patients Office (tel 020 346 55028) can advise you about this.

Do you need my consent before surgery or treatment?

Yes, we do. We won’t go ahead with treatment or surgery without your permission. And you have the right to refuse any treatment or examinations. If you are not able to give your consent, staff will act in your best interests.

Will I come into contact with students?

It’s possible that you will come into contact with students, as all the hospitals in our Trust are involved in teaching students. They may help with giving you direct care or examinations (under supervision) and you might be asked to discuss your condition with students. You have the right to refuse to be seen or treated by students – refusal will not affect the rest of your care.

Will I be asked to take part in research?

Our staff are involved in a variety of research projects and at some stage in your treatment you may be asked to be involved with one of these projects. Any research you are asked to take part in will be relevant to your care. Your consent to be part of a research project will be asked for separately to all other aspects of your treatment. You have the right to refuse to be involved in any research – refusal will not affect the rest of your care.

What should I do if I have any fears or concerns?

If you have any fears or concerns, please speak to a member of staff. If you are unable to leave your bed to speak to a member of staff you can always alert them by pushing your bedside call button or pulling the cord.

What’s the food like?

You get a varied choice, and the daily menus have been devised by chefs who know that you’ll be expecting tasty and healthy food. The ward staff will tell you what time breakfast, lunch and supper are served on your ward. Food can be prepared according to your religious specifications, as well as to your dietary needs (eg, Halal, Kosher or vegetarian). Drinks are served regularly throughout the day. During mealtimes, ward staff and doctors will try to avoid treatments and assessments so you can eat your meals in a calm, peaceful environment. Visitors will be asked to leave the wards unless you need their assistance.

Can I make telephone calls from my ward?

The majority of wards have a payphone which you can use to make outgoing calls.

Mobile phones can be used but not when you’re on the ward or in other areas of the hospital where there is sensitive medical equipment. If you want to use your mobile, please check with a member of staff that it is safe to do so.

Can I get post?

Yes, post is delivered every day and a member of the ward staff will bring your mail to you. To avoid delays, please ask your relatives and friends to use your full name, the name of the ward and the full address of the hospital. Outgoing mail is collected from the ward each day.

Will a mobile shop visit the wards?

Some wards are visited by a trolley service which sells newspapers, confectionary, stationery, toiletries, magazines and stamps. All our hospitals have shops on site which provide a range of products you might require during your stay.

After your stay

Leaving date

Staff will usually agree a leaving (discharge) date with you at an early stage. Everyone involved will work towards making sure you go home on time.

On your day of discharge, we will aim to have you ready to leave the ward by 10am. If you need to wait for transport, or for your medicine to be prepared, we’ll take you to the discharge lounge. The ward staff will let you know if they think you should be accompanied home by a friend or relative. Please make suitable plans as soon as you know your departure date.

Medical certificate

If you’re going to need a medical certificate for your employer or for National Insurance purposes, please discuss this with a member of the ward staff as soon as you can. Please do not wait until you are about to leave the hospital.

Ongoing care

If you think you will need help at home, please let your nurse know as soon

as you can. We can talk you through suitable care options and make arrangements with agencies such as community nursing services and local authority social workers. You will be involved in making decisions and will be kept up to date at all stages. Make sure you understand what follow-up care you’ll be getting and when it will start.

Your contact details

When you leave, the staff will ask for your address and contact telephone numbers (if you haven’t already supplied them). If you are not returning home immediately, please let the staff know your plans. This is for your own safety and protection.

Emergency contact details

You’ll be given details of whom to contact in the unlikely event that there is an emergency relating to your treatment here.

Medicines

We will give you a supply of any medicines you may need and information on how to get repeat prescriptions if you need them.

Discharge letter

You will be given a letter, called a discharge letter, giving brief details of your stay in hospital, any medicines you have been advised to take and information about your discharge (leaving hospital) arrangements. Your GP will also receive a copy of this.

Hospital transport

If you are assessed by our transport assessment officers as being medically unable to make your own way home and you have no other means of getting home, staff can advise you about arranging hospital transport.

If you need to come back for follow-up care, an appointment will usually be made before you leave the ward. If not, we’ll send you a letter to invite you back.