Learning to live with COVID-19

Updated September 2022

Patients and visitor mask wearing:

Patients and visitors are asked to wear masks in our COVID secure wards and Emergency Admission areas only.

You are also asked to continue to practice good hand hygiene and not to visit any of our sites if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

We thank you for your support with these measures. Please find more detailed guidance below.


Advice for attending hospital appointments

We will continue to use video and telephone consultations and systems such as Patient Initiated Follow-Up, where appropriate for patients, as these avoid patients having to unnecessarily travel to hospital and wait in our waiting rooms. Patients have told us they enjoy the benefits of these remote appointments and systems, where a physical consultation or treatment is not required.

However, if you have been asked to come in for a face-to-face appointment, we need to see you, so please do attend. Please:

  • Arrive as close to your appointment time as you can
  • If you want to bring someone with you, please limit this to one person
  • If you feel unwell, please call us to discuss your attendance or rearrange your appointment
  • Please do not attend if you test positive for COVID


Attending the emergency department

If you are not sure whether you need emergency care, call 111 and they'll be able to advise you. If it's a life threatening situation, call 999.

We ask you to please attend the emergency department alone where possible, unless a carer is required and please wear a face covering.

We will be isolating patients deemed to be of high risk of COVID-19. We will also be seeing patients known to have COVID-19 in a separate area. You will therefore be screened on the door by a member of our team.

Remember that in some situations, the Minor Injuries Units (MIU) in the Cumberland Centre, Tavistock and South Hams Hospital might be able to help you.


Diagnostic scans

It is very important that you do not delay coming forward for your scan, particularly if your doctor has referred you as they suspect cancer (also known as a 2 week wait). The risk of delaying treatment can be very significant. If you have any concerns, please do contact us straight away.


Coming in for a planned admission (including day surgery)

If you are being admitted to hospital, we need you to take extra precautions to minimise the risk to you presented by COVID-19. If COVID-19 infection occurs when you have surgery, this could make your recovery more difficult, or increase your risk of serious illness, or death.

  • You will be asked to undertake a Lateral Flow Test 72 hours prior to admission and please only travel to the hospital if your test is negative
  • If you will need or are likely to need an episode of critical care following your operation, you will be asked to undergo a PCR test in advance of your operation

Instructions on how to get your test will be in your appointment letter.


Do not visit with COVID-19 symptoms



We have reintroduced extended visiting hours. This means:

  • Patients can have two visitors at any time (some exceptions apply, please speak to the ward)

  • We have extended our visiting times and no longer require visitors to attend a dedicated slot. Visiting times vary by ward and you can find the latest opening times are available on the Trust website
  • Visitors are asked to wear a mask while in the ward, unless exempt. This is in order to protect our patients and staff. Masks will continue to be available from main entrances to our hospitals
  • You will not be required to undertake a lateral flow test (LFT) before a visit. In line with standard infection prevention and control guidance, we ask you to act responsibly should you experience symptoms of COVID-19 and stay away from our hospitals in order to help us protect the most vulnerable

 Please note there may be exceptions to the above where:

  • Patients are on wards requiring additional measures to reduce the risk of infection because they are immunocompromised, for example, undergoing transplant, stem cell treatment, etc.
  • In addition, it may be necessary to suspend visiting on wards if there is an increased risk of infection


In line with our Carers' Policy, we give carers a choice on whether they wish to continue with their caring role while the person is in hospital. We will ensure that they have the access and support necessary to enable them to provide care should they so choose.

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