Local Hospital Trusts Update Advice to Patients and Visitors


Our two local hospital trusts have updated their advice to patients and visitors during the current crisis.

To people concerned they may have coronavirus, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust says that in line with national guidance, it no longer tests people attending the hospital A&E if their symptoms are mild or moderate and where they or people they have contacted have travelled from is no longer a consideration.

Instead people are being advised to self-isolate at home without any testing for COVID-19, regardless of travel history or contact with confirmed cases, if they have:

a new continuous cough
high temperature (of 37.8 degrees centigrade or higher)

If you had community testing and are waiting for results, the hospital says it will be in touch shortly. Do not call or email the hospital. If you have health concerns contact NHS 111.

The best place for advice, meanwhile is the NHS 111 website

The trust says testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict regulations. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of the hospital and returned home also in isolation.

Any equipment that comes into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others.

To patients wondering about regular appointments, the trust says they can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.

It adds that usually, if an appointment is cancelled, you will be called. Therefore assume your appointment is going ahead. Occasionally appointments have to be cancelled at short notice, which may mean your travel was wasted. The trust apologises if that is the case.

The trust is now looking at whether appointments can be done by telephone or video, where clinically possible.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which includes five local hospitals - Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea, St Mary's and the Western Eye, has already taken that step.

The trust says from today, Thursday 19 March, unless people have been asked to come into hospital, all face-to-face outpatient appointments are being replaced by telephone or video consultations.

And the trust says:

Unless we have asked you to come into hospital, you will receive: 

  • a call from your doctor offering you a telephone consultation if clinically possible. Your doctor will aim to call you within an hour of your scheduled appointment time
  • If you miss the telephone call, or are not able to answer the call, your doctor will review your notes, write a letter to you and your GP and make follow up arrangements as necessary.

Unless we have asked you to come into hospital, all non-urgent planned surgery and procedures like endoscopy and scans are postponed. We will be in touch to rebook your appointment.

We will contact you directly if you need to come into hospital.

To help prevent the spread of infection, local hospitals have changed visiting arrangements for our patients.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust says:

We know it is important for our patients to see family and friends but please consider if your visit is essential. To protect our patients, we've introduced the following visiting restrictions:

  • patients can have only one visitor at a time and no children are allowed
  • visiting hours are 4pm to 7pm
  • please follow all our infection control measures:

    - you should not come to hospital if you are feeling unwell including cold or flu symptoms

    - wash or gel your hands as soon as you enter a ward or unit

    - follow the additional measures that will be requested by our staff if you are visiting a patient with an infection

Please also be aware there may be times when we have to close a ward or unit to visitors completely for a short period of time. We will do all we can to minimise the impact on patients and visitors - your support really helps. 

We will do our best to be flexible if there are exceptional circumstances, such as patients who need carers. Please speak to the nurse in charge if you have any concerns. 

Chelsea and Westminster has also introduced restrictions saying:

To stop the spread of Coronavirus, the Trust has today implemented temporary restrictions on visiting. This is a sensible and measured precaution in order to help keep patients, their families and staff safe. As of today only one essential visitor will be allowed per patient, for example a parent or carer of a child, or main carer.  Similar restrictions are being implemented across London.

In addition, only one person will be allowed per patient visiting the Emergency Departments.

All visitors are requested to ensure they gel their hands as they enter the hospitals and clinical areas and be mindful of coming in if they are unwell or have cold or Flu like symptoms for the protection of the more vulnerable or those with underlying health conditions. Visitors will also be asked to comply with our enhanced infection control practices if they are visiting a patient with an existing infection.  

The Friends of Chelsea and Westminster meanwhile say that it has cancelled its regular lunchtime concerts and sales by independent traders, and its shop and trolley ward rounds will stop. It is also no longer accepting gifts of books or bric a brac.

The latest figures from the Department of Health showed that the number of people in Hammersmith & Fulham who have tested positive for COVID-19 has again risen by three from 25 on Wednesday 25 March to 28 on Thursday. The figures are updated daily here

Our neighbouring boroughs continue to be London hotspots with Westminster now with 78 people testing positive, Wandsworth with 75 and Kensington and Chelsea 57.

The latest figures released by Public Health England show that the national total has now risen to 2,756 in England and 3,269 in the UK, though as those with mild symptoms are not being tested, there may already be 55,000 people with coronavirus in the country, according to the government's chief scientific adviser. Sir Patrick Vallance

The number of people in the UK have now died of Coronavirus has now leapt to 144, including a patient at Charing Cross Hospital - the first and so far only fatality in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:

Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze—then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport (use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are unwell

You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England here.

March 19, 2020