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:

Wearing a face covering

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.

Visits to all wards at Torbay Hospital and community hospitals have been suspended

From 24 March 2020 there will be no visiting on our sites, other than for the four following key groups:

  • For children under 18 – one parent will be able to visit and be able to stay, at a time and a length of time to be discussed with Ward staff
  • Mothers who are expecting in the Birthing Unit, one birth partner will be permitted only when in labour (see our Maternity Services pages for more details.)
  • One relative or carer will be able to stay with their loved one if they are approaching end of life
  • Those who have specific needs, such as dementia or learning disability or other specific care need, will be able to have a carer or a loved one visit and again that will be in discussion with Ward / department staff.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but thank you for your understanding in these unusual times.

‘Help Us Help You Stay Safe’ in hospital during COVID-19

The following information is intended for people who have been invited to attend Torbay Hospital or one of our other treatment sites. We recognise that you may be worried about coming in for a face-to-face appointment, diagnostic test or treatment. We would urge you to read this information carefully so you can be reassured that we are doing everything we can to help you stay as safe as possible in hospital and so you know what to expect.

We are continuously monitoring what is happening with the pandemic. All planned care is subject to developments in the pandemic response and appointments may need to be rescheduled. We apologise if you are affected by this. Information on the changes we are making is available on our website.

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.

Click on the heading below for further information.

Please only attend in an emergency:

  • 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.

Please only attend an outpatient appointment if you have no symptoms of COVID-19. If you are worried you may have symptoms, please call NHS 111 for advice. You can find out more about COVID-19 at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The main symptoms of COVID-19 or coronavirus are:

  • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • New, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 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 – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
  • Most people with covid-19 have at least one of these symptoms
  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Maintain at least 2m distance between yourself and others outside of your household
  • Please attend alone if you can, to help us reduce the number of people coming into the hospital. If you have a carer or need someone to come with you, please call the number on your appointment letter to discuss this
  • Please try to arrive as close to your appointment time as you can

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.

If you are being admitted to hospital, we need you to take extra precautions to minimise the risk presented by COVID-19.

Before your operation or procedure

  • You and any members of your household should enter strict social isolation for 14 days prior to your surgery/procedure. Please note that for admissions and day surgery, unless you are able to isolate from your household effectively, your whole household is asked to isolate for the 14 days.
  • Anyone who is booked in for planned care and needs to isolate prior can self-refer for support from the NHS volunteer programme. You can call the NHS Volunteer Responders helpline tel: 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm or find more information about the programme at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
  • Wear a cloth or face covering when indoors/in confined spaces with other people
  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Maintain at least 2m distance between yourself and others outside of your household
  • Most of your consultations will occur by telephone or email
  • Your anaesthetic assessment will likely be by telephone with a nurse, and possibly an anaesthetist too
  • You may be asked to complete a test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before coming for your procedure. We will contact you with details of how to do this and results are usually available 48 hours after being tested
  • Your operation would be likely to be postponed if you test positive or are unwell
  • If you are unable to isolate effectively or be tested before coming to hospital, your admission may be rescheduled. This will be determined by your care team using clinical judgement and in consultation with you
  • Please only attend an outpatient appointment if you have no symptoms of COVID-19. If you are worried you may have symptoms, please call NHS 111 for advice. You can find out more about coronavirus at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Coronavirus advice for patients coming to the hospital

The main symptoms of COVID-19 or coronavirus are:

  • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • New, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 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 – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
  • Most people with COVID-19 have at least one of these symptoms
  • Please also make sure you contact us if someone in your household develops symptoms

Your operation or procedure

  • Your operation may not take place on the site that you were expecting
  • Circumstances may be different to what you have previously been used to in hospital. Wards may be reorganised, it may seem quieter and staff will be wearing PPE
  • You may not meet your surgeons until the day of treatment, and they might not be the ones you expected. They will however be experienced and trained to perform your operation
  • At the moment, due to COVID-19, we have suspended normal visiting so you will not be able to have your family and friends visit whilst in hospital
  • If you start to show symptoms of coronavirus or test positive while admitted to Torbay Hospital or any of our sites, you will be immediately isolated to ensure the safety of other patients and staff

After your operation

  • You should continue to self-isolate for a further 14 days – after an anaesthetic/operation you will potentially be more vulnerable and at risk of infection
  • You will be discharged from hospital when you are ready, or may be moved elsewhere to a ‘stepdown’ unit to complete your recovery
  • Some follow-up may be conducted by telephone

Discharge to a care home or hospice

If you are going to a care home or hospice after being in hospital, you will be tested for COVID-19 before you leave.

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