COVID-19 advice when coming to our sites

Photo: Coronavirus face covering

For the safety of our vulnerable patients and keep our staff well at work, we are asking visitors to respect the changes we have made to the public visiting patients in the Trust:

Click on the headings below for further information.

What to expect

We have taken a number of steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted in our hospital and clinic settings. These include:

  • Observing the highest standards of infection prevention and control including our staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Isolating patients who test positive for COVID-19 or who are suspected of having the virus
  • Encouraging patients and staff to practice 2m physical distancing from others, wherever possible
  • Suspending our normal visiting arrangements so we reduce the amount of people coming into our hospitals
  • Moving services for vulnerable cancer patients away from our main Torbay Hospital site

These measures help us to significantly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Quality of care, patient safety and experience continue to be our number one priority. If you do need to come in to Torbay Hospital or one of our other sites, you will be asked to take steps to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 for your safety and the safety of our staff and other patients.

If you are currently shielding because you are at high risk of complications should you get COVID-19, but you need to come to Torbay Hospital or one of our clinics for planned care, please note we will try to ensure additional planning and protection measures are put in place. Please talk to your healthcare professional about any concerns you may have.

We are now permitting restricted visiting to some Wards at Torbay Hospital and our community hospitals

Maternity Services are operating a different visiting policy – please visit the maternity services page for further information.

Our guidance on visiting in current times (during COVID-19 and recovery)

  • We know that visiting family and friends while they are in hospital is crucially important to their recovery and to your own confidence around their wellbeing and recovery.
  • We are continuously updating and reviewing our visiting arrangements in line with national and local guidance and are committed to taking the necessary steps to balance the safety and health of our patients, staff and wider community with a compassionate approach that ensures our patients and families remain connected.
  • We encourage that wherever possible, family and loved ones avoid face-to-face visits. However please contact the Ward to discuss the visiting considerations that relate to your relative or loved one, and we will work with you to make the necessary arrangements that keep you and your loved one safe and connected.
  • By contacting the Ward, you can make an appointment to come and visit or make contact through a Virtual Visit using digital technology.
  • The number of visitors at the bedside is limited to one close family contact or somebody important to the patient for one hour per day, between 4pm – 7pm. Please note that our Maternity Ward operates a different visiting policy – please visit the Maternity Services page for details.
  • A second additional visitor could be permitted in exceptional circumstances. This would include a family member for individuals receiving end-of-life care.
  • 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.

Practical considerations when visiting

  • Where it is possible, please maintain 2 metres social distancing throughout the visit.
  • When you arrive on the Ward you will be given practical advice about social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment, handwashing and risks associated with the removal of gloves to hold hands.
  • Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild or intermittent, due to the risk they pose to others. 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 14 days. 
  • Where a face-to-face visit is not practical then virtual visits will be supported and facilitated.

As you may be aware the government has recently updated its advice for patients who attend a hospital setting therefore, please pay attention to any information sites displayed at the entrance to the hospital. You and anyone who is accompanying you for your appointment, will be required to wear a face covering:

  • A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.

  • Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.

  • You should wash a face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.

  • When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.

More information can be found on the Gov.UK guidance page: How to wear and make a cloth face covering.

If you or a loved one has a health emergency you must continue to attend an Emergency Department or call 999. We have stringent measures in place to ensure patients are kept safe.

These measures include, social distancing, thorough cleaning and all our staff wearing appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). We also ask all patients to follow the steps below to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 for your safety and the safety of our staff and other patients.

  • As part of our coronavirus precautions, all patients will be assessed in the assessment pod outside of the Emergency Department. You will be asked some screening questions and your temperature will be checked.
  • No patients or relatives will be allowed access to the Emergency Department until they have been assessed.
  • This is to ensure that patients are treated in the most appropriate clinical setting safely and without delay.
  • Please also consider whether your journey is completely necessary – you can carry the virus without showing any symptoms.

Revised MIU arrangements

Due to prioritising our emergency services in response to the COVID-19 situation, we are experiencing difficulties in sustaining staffing levels at our Minor Injuries Units (MIU) in Dawlish and Totnes Community Hospitals. From 4pm, 19th March, we are closing Dawlish and Totnes MIUs and referring anyone with a minor injury to the MIU at Newton Abbot Community Hospital.

We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause our local communities. Thank you for your understanding at this time and for helping us to ensure we prioritise Torbay Hospital for our very sickest and emergency patients.

Where possible, remote appointments are being offered using video or telephone. We are asking patients to attend face-to-face services only when it is really necessary. If we do ask you to attend for a face-to-face outpatient appointment, it is because the healthcare professional treating you feels it is important to see you in person.

Outpatient appointments

All planned care is subject to change as we deal with the pandemic, and appointments may need to be rescheduled. We apologise if you are affectedby this.

Where possible you will be offered a telephone or video appointment, and your appointment letter will make this clear. You will only be asked to attend a face-to-face appointment when it is necessary for your care.

If you are currently shielding because you are at high risk of complications should you get COVID-19, and you need to come to Torbay Hospital or one of our clinics, please talk to your healthcareprofessional about any concerns you may have.

Attending face-to-face

If you are coming to a hospital or other clinical setting as an outpatient, we need you to take extra precautions to minimise the risk from COVID-19:

  • Please attend alone if you can. If you have a carer or need someone to come with you, please call the number on your appointment letter to discuss this
  • Please wear a mask or other face covering*. This also applies to anyone accompanying you. Please bring this with you if possible
  • Use the hand sanitiser when entering and leaving our buildings
  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand rub
  • Observe 2m physical distancing from others, where possible
  • Keep left when travelling along our corridors
  • Try to arrive as close to your appointment time as you can

*A cloth covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head. This applies to anyone over 11 years old with the exception of people with a breathing difficulty, severe anxiety or where it would be very painful.

Please do not attend any appointment if you have symptoms of COVID-19. If youare worried you may have symptoms call NHS 111 for advice. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • High temperature
  • New continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. If you usually have a cough it may be worse than usual
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you have any of the above symptoms and you have a face-to-face appointment, please telephone the number on your appointment letter to tell us you are not able to attend.

Please note that, in addition to the above, we are allowing more time between each appointment to allow longer for the cleaning of rooms and equipment. This also helps minimise the number of patients being sat together in waiting areas.

Planned / Day Surgery

If you are waiting to have surgery or a procedure, we will write to you in advance of offering you a date for your surgery.

Safe locations for your surgery

COVID-19 has put our surgical services under huge pressure. You may be asked to come to Torbay Hospital, or to have your surgery as an NHS patient at our local private provider, Ramsay Healthcare at Mount Stuart Hospital. There are no COVID-19 or COVID-19 suspected patients or staff at Mount Stuart. Torbay Hospital has designated separate pathways to manage COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

We will write to you about COVID-19 related risks and benefits of surgery before we offer you a date for surgery.

Precautions against COVID-19

When coming to Torbay Hospital or Mount Stuart Hospital for surgery or a procedure please follow extra precautions:

  • Please ensure you follow comprehensive social distancing and hand hygiene measures for 14 days before admission
  • If you are having a Surgical Procedure, either under General or Local anaesthetic, you will be invited to attend for a COVID test 72 hours before your procedure, after which you are required to self-isolate* within your household. This means you are in a room on your own with access to a bathroom, food etc
  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand rub

Before your surgery

  • Most of your consultations will be by telephone or email
  • Your anaesthetic assessment will likely be by telephone with a nurse, and possibly an anaesthetist too

*For support whilst isolating call the NHS Volunteer Responders helpline 8am to 8pm on 0808 196 3646 or visit www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk

If you are currently shielding because you are at high risk of complications should you get COVID-19, please talk to your healthcare professional about any concerns you may have.

Your surgery is likely to be postponed if you:

  • test positive for SARS-CoV-2
  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are not clinically well enough or
  • need to self-isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19 (for example, as identified by the NHS Test and Trace system)

Coming to hospital for surgery

  • On arrival please wear a mask or other face covering. This also applies to anyone accompanying you. Please bring this with you if possible
  • You may not meet your surgeons until the day of treatment, and they may not be who you are expecting. They will however be experienced and trained to perform your surgery
  • If while you are in hospital you show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, you will be immediately isolated to ensure the safety of other patients and staff

After your surgery

  • If you need to stay in hospital, you will not be able to have friends and family visit you: we have suspended normal visiting due to COVID-19
  • You will probably be more vulnerable to infection so you should continue to self-isolate for a further seven days
  • You will be discharged when it is medically safe, or you may be moved elsewhere to a ‘stepdown’ unit to complete your recovery
  • Some follow-up may be conducted by telephone
  • If you are going to a care home or hospice, you will be tested for COVID-19 before you leave

How can I get help if I think I have coronavirus (COVID-19)

The latest information on symptoms of coronovirus infection can be found on nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. You can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. See ending isolation section for more information
  • if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
  • for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period. See ending isolation section for more information

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

Read the NHS's advice about staying at home.

Please follow Public Health England advice to:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after returning home. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Information leaflets

Translate this page: