Doctors and other healthcare professionals in Gloucestershire are urging local people to continue to attend their planned and routine appointments in hospital and other NHS settings, despite the second national lockdown which is due to start on Thursday.
The NHS has worked hard to restore planned and non-emergency services following the suspension in services during the peak of the outbreak earlier this year, and although waiting times for some procedures have increased as a result of this, patients are being invited to attend their appointments as normal.
Dr Jeremy Welch, GP in Tewkesbury and Urgent Care Lead at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“We understand how frustrating it was earlier this year for patients to have had appointments or operations delayed, and we are doing everything we can to avoid further delays and minimise the impact of the next lockdown on patients.
NHS staff pulled out all the stops to get services back to normal as quickly as possible. It is vitally important that patients attend appointments for planned treatments and procedures so that they can get the advice, tests, treatment or surgery they need.
Patients may have worries about attending appointments in hospital, but the steps taken to minimise transmission of the virus and keep people safe is unprecedented. The risks are incredibly low and in-hospital transmission is rare.”
Dr Rachael De Caux, Chief Operating Officer at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and A&E Consultant, said:
“All of the county’s hospitals have put rigorous infection control and social distancing procedures in place and patients can be confident that it is safe to attend appointments at all of the hospital sites.
Patients coming into our hospitals should continue to act responsibly by wearing a face covering, maintaining two metre social distancing, following infection control advice from hospital staff and washing hands frequently.”
Amjad Uppal, Medical Director from Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Because of the incredible work that has been done to prevent infection and keep patients and staff safe, members of the public should have every confidence in attending their outpatient appointment or coming in for their operation.
If you are referred to hospital services, you must keep your appointment – whether that’s by phone, video or in person.
Your appointment is there for a reason and it’s important for your health in the longer term that you get the treatment you need and benefit from the NHS services available.”
Patients who have booked a virtual appointment with a clinician are asked to treat this as they would a normal appointment and ensure that they are in an environment where they can discuss personal information.
Guidelines for patients attending planned hospital appointments
If you are attending an appointment in one of our buildings, please help us by following these guidelines:
• Rescheduling your appointment if you or a member of your household has either been diagnosed or is self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
• Ensuring that you are symptom-free when attending the hospital.
• Wearing your own protective face covering. This applies to you and anyone accompanying you. Please visit www.nhs.uk for advice on face coverings.
• Maintaining social distancing.
• Not wearing gloves to your appointment as they prevent you from being able to clean your hands. You will be provided with the opportunity to clean your hands before and after your appointment.
• Not attending too early or staying in the building after appointments. Seating may be limited in waiting areas so you may need to wait outside until your appointment time.
• Ideally, anyone attending an appointment should do so alone if they are able to. This does not apply to children or anyone requiring assistance from carers.
• Patients will be required to isolate themselves from the point of a pre-operative COVID19 swab and be clear of any symptoms before being admitted for planned surgical procedures.
• Testing will be offered to all patients before being admitted to provide certainty for patients and staff that they are COVID-free. Patients being admitted for planned surgery will be tested before admission and emergency patients will be tested on admission, and again, five days later.
• Patients requiring urgent and emergency care will continue to be tested if they require admission to make the risk of spreading the virus in hospital as low as possible.
• Those attending emergency departments and other ‘walk-in’ services will be required to maintain social distancing and wear a face covering.
• As many outpatient appointments as possible will continue to be conducted remotely, and those who do need a face-to face consultation will be asked not to attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
• Those requiring a long hospital stay will be continuously monitored for symptoms and re-tested between five and seven days after admission. Those patients who are due to be discharged to a care home will be tested up to 48 hours before they are due to leave.