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Coronavirus: information and advice

Staying safe from coronavirus

We want to keep you, your family, patients and our staff safe.

All of us have a responsibility to reduce the spread of coronavirus, so while you are here please follow our guidelines. 

We will continue to ask you to wear masks inside the hospital. 

Please see below for the current restrictions to visiting arrangements. 

Thank you for helping us keep patients and staff safe. 

If you are coming into hospital for a planned operation, please read our advice on what to expect

If you are pregnant, please see our maternity page for information about your care during your pregnancy and birth, including necessary restrictions on visiting and being accompanied to your appointments at this time. 

Appointments

We will continue to make sure everyone who can have their appointment over the telephone or video call does not come to the hospital. Your appointment letter will tell you whether you need to attend the hospital or whether a clinician will call you.

If you need to come to the hospital

  • Please enter the hospital via the entrance nearest to where your appointment will take place (listed in your letter). This will help us make sure too many people are not walking through the hospital at any one time.
  • Please do not bring a friend or relative with you when attending your appointment. This is because we need to limit the number of people in clinic areas. One parent or guardian may accompany a child, and one person may accompany a vulnerable adult.

When you arrive at the hospital

We ask you to clean your hands at the entrance to the hospital. We will provide sanitising facilities so you can do this.

You may be asked to wait to enter the building or appointment area. Some parts of the hospital will have one-way systems, or you may be asked to walk on the left. 

If you are coming to hospital as a visitor or for planned outpatient care, it is important that you wear a face covering at all times. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff.

Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff on arrival and we will provide you with one.

If you are shielding

If you are shielding but need to attend hospital, and have been provided with a surgical face mask for your appointments, please continue to use this. If you have not been provided with a surgical face mask, you should wear a face covering.

If you are pregnant, please see our maternity page for advice on your ante-natal appointments. 

Supporting you and our staff

Thank you for helping us maintain your safety as we re-open hospital services. Please respect the space of fellow patients and do not attend your appointment if you have any symptoms of the virus.

Please also be patient with our staff, who are working in new ways to maintain your safety.

We are doing everything we can to maintain the cleanliness of our hospitals with regular cleaning.

Hand sanitiser dispensers are available throughout the hospitals. 

Please be considerate to our staff and follow their instructions. Everyone is doing their best in these difficult times.

Thank you again for all your help as we work together to keep everyone safe.

Emergency services

Our emergency services are operating as normal and are safe to use. So if you have concerns about your health, eg, if you are suffering from chest pain, please seek help as normal


Blood tests

Blood tests are now by appointment only for all patients. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to offer a walk-in service to ensure social distancing.

To book an appointment please click on the following link to access the booking portal https://itx.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patheks

If you are unable to book via this portal please call 01227 206739. Please note this number is only to book blood test appointments if you are unable to use the above link.

For the safety of patients and staff, please do not visit if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if anyone in your household has tested positive.

Please wear a mask when you come to hospital and use the hand sanitiser at the entrance as well as when you enter the ward or department.

Visiting arrangements
  • Visiting a patient on a ward: two visitors are allowed for a maximum of one hour per day. The hour must be within visiting times of 2 - 4pm and 6 - 8pm. 

    This will be the same identified persons for the whole of their stay. We ask families to discuss who are best to be the “nominated visitors”.
    Please book your one-hour time slot by calling the ward.

  • People visiting a patient who requires additional support (eg, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Dementia and Mental Health) can visit outside of these hours with no limit length of visit, however visitors are requested to contact the ward to arrange visit if outside of published visiting hours.
  • Visiting a patient receiving end-of-life care: Close family members can visit. Visiting is limited to a maximum of two visitors at any one time.
  • Please visit our maternity pages if you are a birthing partner accompanying a woman.
  • Visiting a child: Two parents or guardians are permitted to be a resident parent during the day and one parent or guardian overnight. 
  • In the emergency department: One person may accompany a patient who is seriously ill or injured with the approval of the nurse in charge.
  • Outpatient appointments: One person can attend to support a patient with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed (unless the patient is assessed as requiring a higher support staff ratio. Should the patient require additional staffing please inform outpatients prior to appointment).

In exceptional circumstances the ward or department may suspend or alter these arrangements for reasons of safety.

Visitors should only visit one patient, and not visit or assist other patients in a bay / ward.

Patients coming into our hospitals can bring their own tablet, iPad or smartphones to stay in touch with friends and relatives via video and phone calls. You can find information on how to access WiFi whilst in hospital here.

We can also help you send a special message to your loved one - see how, here

Thank you for helping us keep patients safe. 

Visitor advice

Please follow all our infection control measures if you need to come to hospital. 

  • you should not come to the hospital if you are feeling unwell, including with cold or flu symptoms
  • wash or gel your hands as soon as you enter the building, a ward or unit
  • please do not bring any items of food or drink for the person you are visiting
  • Visitors should only visit one patient, and not visit or assist other patients in a bay / ward.


The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

If your symptoms are serious, or get worse, NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need further medical help and advise you what to do. 

Only call 111 direct if you are advised to do so by the online service or you cannot go online.

The most up-to-date public guidance - including information about being tested for Coronavirus - is always online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Patient information 

If you are on certain medications for your rheumatological condition you could be at a higher risk of complications should you contract Coronavirus. 

Please download the Rheumatology letter to see what guidance you need to follow. 

If you wish to register as a vulnerable patient with the government please follow this link:
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

Handwashing poster advice

Accessible information

Health Education England has Coronavirus information available for patients, carers and families in accessible formats. The information is for older people, children and young people in easy read, Makaton and British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out more and look at these resources here