Coronavirus: information and advice

We are re-opening some hospital services carefully and safely. We are re-opening some outpatient clinics and some tests and scans, and we are now able to carry out more surgical procedures.

But because the current Government advice is to maintain distance between people wherever possible, and to take extra care to protect patients and staff, we will not be able to re-open every service straight away and we need to make sure there are not too many people in the hospital at any one time. 

This means your hospital appointment or surgery will be very different. 

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


In line with Government advice, 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 follow Government advice and avoid public transport as much as you can.
  • 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

When you arrive at the hospital, a member of staff will take your temperature at the entrance to the building. If you have a high temperature, we may ask you to return home, and rearrange your appointment date.

We will also ask you to clean your hands at the entrance to the hospital. We will provide hand washing and 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. We are also asking people to maintain social distancing in lifts.

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.

Keeping socially distant in waiting areas 

We are limiting the number of people in waiting areas at any one time, in line with Government advice to maintain distance between people.

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 and cleaning wipes will be available for any touch screens or vending machines that you may use.  

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.

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.

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

Visiting restrictions in hospital

To protect patients, staff and the public, we have had to take the difficult decision to restrict visiting again. We are unable to allow any visiting in our hospitals until further notice.

The only exceptional circumstances where one visitor – an immediate family member or carer – will be permitted to visit are:

• The patient you wish to visit is receiving end-of-life care

• You are the birthing partner accompanying a woman in labour.

• You are a parent or appropriate adult visiting your child.

• You are supporting someone with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed. We ask you to limit your visit to up to two hours a day.

We understand that this is a very difficult situation for you and your loved one. 

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.
Handwashing poster advice

Patient advice

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 you have symptoms associated with coronavirus, you are advised to stay at home for 10 days. Please do not attend hospital.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.

But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 10 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days. 

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

If you have tested positive for Coronavirus and been discharged from hospital

Please download the relevant patient advice leaflets:

Covid 19 Infection - Discharge from A&E Patient Leaflet

Covid 19 Infection - Discharge from Hospital Stay Patient Advice Leaflet

Translated and easy read leaflets are available from the Government website

Further information

Please see our maternity page for specific information and guidance for expectant mums.

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