Covid-19: guidance for patients and visitors

Patient and consultant talking about treatment options in NHS hospital

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

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Our services

Mutual aid

We are working together with North East London (NEL) NHS hospitals to offer treatment to every patient who is on a waiting list in the quickest possible way.

One way in which we’re making this happen is by each hospital offering access to their specialist doctors for some services, to patients waiting on any hospital list in NEL. You can find out more by reading the mutual aid leaflet.

Mutual Aid patient leaflet ONLINE.pdf [pdf] 35KB

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. This is to limit the number of people in our hospitals whilst Covid-19 remains a threat to everyone's health.

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.

Visiting and attending our hospitals with a loved one

Visiting a relative or friend

Please note this information is relevant as of 1.4.2022

The health 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 regularly reviewing and adapting our visiting guidance which may change at short notice. Please keep checking this page and the webpage for the hospital you wish to visit for the latest visiting guidance.

We are aware of how difficult it is and has been for families to visit their loved ones during the pandemic, and we appreciate your patience. Our staff are working hard to keep everyone safe and so we ask that you treat them with kindness and respect when visiting our hospital.

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

Please do not visit any of our hospitals if you are feeling unwell, have any cold / flu / Covid-19 like symptoms or have been told to self-isolate.

When you arrive at our hospitals you will be provided with a surgical face mask to wear at all times when inside the hospital. All staff and visitors must wear this mask unless you have a medical exemption or are under 11 years old. Other face coverings are not permitted. 

You will also be asked to sanitise your hands using the hand gel available when you arrive at the hospital. Please maintain social distancing inside the hospital and wash your hands more often. You will also be asked some questions about why you're visiting the hospital and whether you have any symptoms.

We are working hard to keep our patients, staff and the public safe. Please do your bit by following this guidance if you wish to visit someone at one of our hospitals.

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.

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

Covid-19 Medicine Delivery Unit (CMDU) at Barts Health

We have opened a Covid-19 Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU) which will be offering treatments for Covid-19 to the people of north east London.

We will be offering two types of treatment to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria:

You cannot request to have these treatments. Instead, you will be contacted by the NHS (either your GP or NHS 111) if you are eligible to have one. You will then be referred on to the CMDU team who will be in touch to confirm which – if any – of these treatments you will have.

You can find out more about the Barts Health CMDU here and about these treatments on the NHS website.

We are also offering nMAb treatment to inpatients at Barts Health. The treatment will be offered to patients admitted to one of our hospitals (inpatients) who:

  • are over 50 years of age and 
  • are confirmed as Covid-19 positive on a PCR test and
  • don’t have any antibodies against Covid-19

Individuals who are aged between 12 and 50 years of age are also eligible if they are positive on a PCR test, have no antibodies and are immunocompromised.

The treatment is given as an infusion over the course of 30 minutes, after which the patient is observed for one hour. It works by helping the body’s immune system to fight off the virus, and causes very few side effects in the majority of people it’s given to.

If you or your loved one are offered monoclonal antibody treatment and have any questions, please speak to the team caring for them.

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