Coronavirus (COVID-19): Current information and advice
Changes to our services – January 2021
We are caring for a rapidly increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19, which is placing unprecedented pressure on our services.
To ensure we can care for the high numbers of patients we are seeing, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone some routine planned procedures. This allows us to move staff between departments and support critical care and COVID-19 wards. We will contact all patients whose appointments need to be rescheduled.
We are also postponing or changing the way we provide many outpatient appointments. Some appointments will now be offered as virtual consultations. We will contact all patients whose outpatient appointments are affected.
We are sorry we have had to take these steps and do understand the impact these decisions have on patients, families and carers. This decision is never taken lightly but will ensure we are able to treat patients who need urgent care quickly while maintaining the highest standards of safety for all our patients.
If you have been asked to come to hospital for your appointment, please attend as normal. If you can’t attend, or have any concerns, please get in touch with the relevant service via the contact details in your appointment letter as soon as possible.
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
The phased roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is continuing across Sussex. The vaccination programme will continue to expand over the coming weeks and months as more vaccines becomes available.
NHS 111 First
For medical advice when it is not a life-threatening emergency, please contact NHS 111 first. Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk.
They can direct you to the right place and can book a time slot for services at our Emergency Departments or Urgent Treatment Centres.
By calling 111 first you are making sure you are going to the most appropriate service for your needs – getting the right care in the right place in a more timely way.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, you can still attend the Emergency Department or call 999.
Providing COVID-safe care
Following the prime minister’s announcement about new national restrictions from 5 January, the NHS and our hospitals will remain open.
It’s safe and important to attend your appointment and seek help when needed. Unless you hear from the hospital directly, please attend as normal.
A&E: Our Accident & Emergency units are open as normal and are here for you in a medical emergency. For medical advice when it is not a life-threatening emergency, please contact NHS 111 first. Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk.
We have the capacity and resources to treat emergency patients and have separate areas for the safe care of people with and without COVID-19 symptoms. However, we are asking everyone attending A&E to come on their own unless they require a carer. Only one parent/carer should accompany a child.
Maternity: Information about our maternity services is available through the Family Assist support service:
Restrictions on hospital visiting
Compassionate Visiting Guidance during National Lockdown
During National lockdown and due to the rise in COVID 19 cases in the community and in the hospital, in order to protect our patients and staff, we have taken the difficult decision to restrict visiting as below from Saturday 7th November. Surgical masks must be worn at all times with visiting only permitted in the following circumstances:
Adult general areas
- Patients in the final days of life will be able to receive visitors on compassionate grounds, as agreed with the ward.
- One carer who is supporting someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed.
- Carers with a carer’s passport or a carer’s care can continue to visit as usual.
- Partners are welcome on Tangmere and Bramber Ward from 3-4pm daily. Surgical masks should be worn throughout the visit and social distancing maintained from staff and other families in the bays other than the person you are visiting.
- A single birth partner is welcome during all attendances to the Delivery Suite and during labour; a second birth partner can alternate. However both birth partners cannot be in the room at the same time, so one partner must leave the delivery suite entirely when not in the room (please note there are no waiting areas on either of our sites for Delivery Suite).
- Partners are welcome at early pregnancy scans, the 12-13 weeks scan and the 20 week scan.. For other appointments and scans we are unable to accommodate partners while maintaining social distance and safety due to the size and geography of our clinics.
For further information on maternity please go to the West Sussex Family Assist site where information is kept up to date https://west-sussex-family-assist.custhelp.com/
- One parent/carer may be resident with the child or young person admitted to the children’s wards.
- Visiting on the wards will be restricted to one parent/carer only.
- Anyone with respiratory or flu like symptoms, a high temperature or loss of taste &/or smell must not visit the ward.
- Anyone under the age of 16 years old (i.e. siblings) cannot visit.
- Parents and children are to remain within the cubicle or bay at all times.
- Visiting on the units will be restricted to the same one Parent/Carer with a designated other (i.e. partner or father) from the same household.
- The parent/s must remain with their baby at all times.
- Anyone under the age of 16 years old cannot visit.
- Anyone with a temperature, any respiratory or flu like symptoms or loss of smell and taste must not visit the unit.
In exceptional family situations: visiting arrangements can be discussed and alternative arrangements may be agreed with the nurse in charge.
The current rules for visiting are:
- Please contact the ward or department before visiting. Visits must be pre-booked by phoning the ward, preferably at least a day in advance, so we can make sure we don’t have too many people in at one time.
- One visitor can come in for a maximum of one hour each day, between 2 and 8pm.
- Do not come into the hospital if you are unwell or showing signs of coronavirus.
- Only attend if your visit is essential, there continues to be different guidelines for patients at the end of life or those accompanying a child as outlined below.
- You must wear a SURGICAL face mask all the time you are in the hospital these are supplied at the hospital.
- You must enter and leave through the main hospital reception only.
- You must clean your hands with the alcohol gel provided when entering and leaving wards/departments/hospital.
- Ward staff will ensure that when you enter the ward, they will provide you with the appropriate PPE which will consist of aprons and gloves and on COVID wards a visor before you enter a bay or side room with your relative.
- You must stay at least two metres away from other people at all times.
- Follow social distancing signage around the hospital when moving around. Keep left when travelling along our corridors.
- You must put your face mask in the bin provided as you leave the hospital.
- Failure to wear the appropriate PPE, or any breaches of PPE while visiting will mean you will be advised to isolate for the next 10 days and you will not be allowed to revisit within that time frame
- After leaving the hospital you should return straight home to change into clean clothes
- If you are returning from overseas and are required to quarantine for 10 days, you must complete this before visiting the hospital.
Information for others
Other people who are in attendance to support the needs of the patient, for example; a familiar carer/supporter/personal assistant, should not be counted as an additional visitor.
Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist with the patient’s communication and/or to meet the patient’s health or social care needs. Where possible patients should contact the ward or department in advance to discuss local considerations and make appropriate arrangements.
Visiting is not permitted if:
- You are in a household that is self-isolating or you have been in contact with someone else who is suspected/confirmed to have coronavirus.
- If you are showing symptoms of coronavirus, (i.e. a new continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of taste and smell). With these symptoms you must not visit, even if these are mild or intermittent. This is important for infection prevention and control.
- If you display symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate at home and organise a test. Members of your household should also self-isolate for 10 days.
Keeping in touch
We continue to recommend that you use digital services such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp to stay in touch with loved ones during their hospital stay, to minimise the risk of spreading or contracting the virus. In addition, within the Trust, we have access to some iPads and mobile phones for use and we will continue to operate an initiative to enable loved ones to keep in touch remotely, see below:
Messages for Loved Ones
Emails can be sent to wshnt.MessagesToLovedOnes@nhs.net or letters posted to Messages to Loved Ones, St Richard’s Hospital, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO196SE. Messages will be printed and laminated for delivery to the wards Monday to Friday.
Thinking of you
The Trust is also keen to receive messages of support for patients who may not have any loved ones from anyone, regardless of where they live or if they are a member of an organisation. The Trust are inviting people to send their messages to Thinking of you by email; wshnt.MessagesToLovedOnes@nhs.net; or post to Messages to Loved Ones, St Richard’s Hospital, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO196SE.
If you have any of these symptoms you should self-isolate at home for 10 days and follow the latest government advice.
- a new persistent cough,
- a temperature (fever) of 37.8 degrees or more, or
- loss of taste or smell.
All other members of a household in which anyone has any of these symptoms should not leave their home for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Please also be aware that it may not be possible to visit if we have to close part or all of the ward due to a patient being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Protect yourself and others
The safety of all our patients and staff is our top priority and we are confident in our procedures for responding to the spread of COVID-19.
Our staff are practised and skilled in treating patients with infectious diseases, we have robust infection control measures in place and are following the most up-to-date national guidance and procedures at all times.
However, we all have a part to play in protecting ourselves and others.
The best thing you can do to help stop the spread of coronavirus is to follow the latest government guidance on social distancing.
Please also follow Public Health England advice to:
- Wash your hands when you get to work or arrive home, after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze, after using public transport, and before you eat or handle food
- Use a tissue to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Clean and disinfect regularly-touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products
If you need information and advice about the early symptoms of coronavirus, please visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
This should be your first stop for advice about the virus.
Please only call NHS 111 if you cannot get the help you need online, or
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home,
- your condition gets worse, or
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.
- NHS coronavirus information and advice
- Government coronavirus information for the public
- COVID-19 Privacy Notice
- Learning Disability and Autism Resource for Coronavirus
- Learning Disabilities Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Getting better in hospital