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Coming to hospital

Our staff at Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospitals have been working hard to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and ensure the safety and quality of our services for all patients. 

Just like the rest of the NHS, our number one priority for the last few months has been ensuring that all those who need urgent care – not just those with coronavirus – have been able to get it when they need it.

Combined with the need to avoid unnecessary contact to reduce the spread of the virus, this has meant that some non-urgent appointments and surgeries may have been postponed, and others delivered differently using technology. 

We are now preparing to gradually increase some important face-to-face services and therefore, if you do need to attend hospital for an appointment or as a visitor, you will be asked to take some steps so not put our patients, the public or our staff at greater risk.

To help reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep our hospitals safe, from Monday, 15 June 2020 you will need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient. 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.

For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival. 

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.

All visitors will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and signage will be displayed advising people of the appropriate entrances and exits to use to ensure this can be done safely.

Due to social distancing, if you do attend an appointment accompanied, your chaperone might be asked to wait outside of the department during your appointment.

Please ensure you use hand gel available on entering and exiting our hospital sites.

IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS: COUGH, FEVER, LOSS OF TASTE OR SMELL THEN PLEASE DO NOT COME INTO HOSPITAL.

If you have further questions regarding the changes we have made across the Trust, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service

We will do everything possible to provide essential surgery at this time. However, the coronavirus pandemic is placing huge demands on the entire health service and is changing the way we work and your surgical care may be affected in many ways.

Your assessment and care may be disrupted, delayed or performed differently during the pandemic.

Your surgical care may also be different to normal

Before your operation

  • Most of your consultations will occur by telephone or by letter.
  • The added risks of getting coronavirus will be discussed and in some cases this may change treatment options.
  • Your pre-anaesthetic assessment may be done by telephone with a nurse, and possibly an anaesthetist too.
  • We will arrange for you to have coronavirus testing approximately 72 hours before your operation by taking a virus nose and throat swab. Your operation is likely to be postponed if you test positive or are unwell. Unfortunately this test is not always accurate and you might be developing COVID-19 coronavirus infection even if the test is negative.
  • In addition, if you are having major surgery, you may require a CT scan of your chest the day before surgery, to ensure there are no changes associated with COVID-19 coronavirus infection. Your procedure is likely to be postponed if the CT scan is abnormal.
  • Unless surgery is an emergency, whilst at home waiting for the procedure you will be asked to ensure strict ‘Shielding’ for two weeks before your admission to hospital as per Public Health England (PHE) guidance against COVID-19 coronavirus. This should lower the risk of being exposed to the virus as much as possible. During these 2 weeks you should contact us and report if there are any new problems such as onset of fever, cough or flu-like illness in yourself or any member of your household.

Your operation

  • Your operation may not take place on the hospital site that you were expecting. We are operating on NHS patients at 
    • Nuffield Hospital in Newcastle-under-Lyme
    • Rowley Hall Hospital in Stafford
    • Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent
    • County Hospital in Stafford
  • Circumstances will be very different in hospital. Wards will be reorganised to provide areas that are as coronavirus free as possible. Staff will be wearing protective equipment such as surgical masks and visors to provide added protection from the virus for all patients and staff.
  • You may not meet your surgeons until the day of your treatment, and they might not be the ones you were expecting. They will, however, be experienced and trained to perform your operation.
  • Unfortunately, it is unlikely that your family and friends will be able to visit you whilst you are in hospital.

After your operation

  • We will discharge you as soon as it is safe, and as far as possible we will follow you up by telephone.

Depending on the level of COVID-19 coronavirus circulating in the local population, you might be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms when you come for your operation. Coming to hospital might also increase your chances of contracting COVID-19 virus despite all the precautions we will take. However, considering the decreasing level of COVID-19 virus in the general population (May 2020), the risk of either of these, is low.

If COVID-19 coronavirus infection occurs when you have surgery or while you are in hospital, this could either make your recovery more difficult, or increase your risk of serious illness and death. In some circumstances this could mean that the risk of surgery may be too high for us to offer the surgery, but for those patients that we do offer surgery to, we will do everything we can to perform your operation safely. We will listen to your concerns and discuss them with you.

Considering the extra risks of surgery due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, you may wish to delay your operation, and we would understand your reasons for this. However, we don’t know how long the pandemic conditions may go on for or whether a second wave will occur, and if so, when. There may be very long delays if waiting for COVID-19 “free” conditions. Future dates for surgery may also take longer than normal to arrange. These delays could make surgery more difficult or less successful.

UHNM, along with the wider NHS, is responding the national coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak.

From 30 March, all routine appointments will be cancelled in order to minimise the risk of infection and ensure all NHS resources are directed to where they are needed at this time.

If you have a scheduled appointment, we will be contacting to you to advise if you need to attend. We may need to arrange a different way of speaking to you, such as a telephone consultation, where possible.

If you are still required to come into hospital we would request that you attend by yourself, or if you need support, with a maximum of one other person.

If you would prefer not to attend your appointment/procedure, please inform us by the telephone number on your admission letter.

Due to the large amount of calls we are currently receiving, please only ring if you have an urgent query.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, if you do need to attend hospital for an outpatient appointment, you will be asked to take some steps to ensure you can get the care you need in an environment that keeps you safe.

Before your appointment

You will receive an automated telephone and text message to remind you about your appointment, so please make sure we have your up-to-date details.

If you can no longer make your appointment or no longer need it please call 01782 676676 or email uhnm.appointments@uhnm.nhs.uk. Your referral may be closed and you may not be offered another appointment if you do not let us know.

If you have any of these symptoms: cough, fever, loss of taste or smell then please do not attend your appointment.

Please bring with you to your appointment

  • Your appointment card or letter.
  • Any medication you are taking.
  • Details of existing medical conditions and/or allergies you have.
  • Samples if requested.
  • Proof of entitlement to free prescriptions and/or travel. You may be entitled to claim your travel expenses if you are receiving supplementary benefits.

When you arrive for your appointment

To help us adhere to the government guidelines during the current Covid situation please could you attend as close to your appointment time as possible. Most clinics at Royal Stoke have a self check facility in the main entrance.

Face Coverings/Masks 

All patients and visitors are required to wear face coverings. These can be cloth and/or handmade. More information is available on our website www.uhnm.nhs.uk   

Social Distancing

All patients and visitors will be asked to maintain social distancing and where possible all patients should attend appointments alone. If you do need to be accompanied, your chaperone may be asked to wait outside of the department during your appointment.

After your appointment

Before leaving, please hand in your ‘clinic outcome form’ to the receptionist and ask for a survey so that you can tell us how we did.

Getting to and from hospital

There is a free shuttle service between Royal Stoke and County on the hour, every hour, between 6am –10pm Monday to Friday and two hourly at weekends. Call 01782 813047 to book. (office hours 9am-5pm).

 

 

Fever detectors have been installed in some areas of the hospital as an extra precaution and some patients may be required to checked by the thermal camera. The cameras record body temperature and identify anyone displaying signs of fever, those detected by the camera can then be seen by a clinician to determine if they have the first signs of a high fever related to an infection/illness such as COVID-19. The action taken on those with a high temperature will vary on the clinical needs of the patient.