Learning to live with COVID-19
Updated June 2022
We still have special measures in place to protect the most vulnerable patients in our hospitals, for example, those undergoing treatment for cancer or renal transplantation. In order to protect them you will be asked to wear a mask in wards and clinical areas. Masks will continue to be available in the main entrances to our hospitals and sites for you. You do not have to wear a mask in our main entrance or corridors but we do ask you to put a mask on when you enter a clinical area where patients are being treated.
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
- Attending the emergency department
- Diagnostic scans
- Coming in for a planned admission (including day surgery)
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:
- Continue to wear a face covering to your appointment if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or cold or if you prefer to wear a face mask. Masks will be available at entrances to our sites.
- 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
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 if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or cold.
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.
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.
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.
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, unless exempt, in wards and areas where patients are being cared for. This is in order to protect our patients. 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.