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 information.

While formal legal COVID-19 restrictions have been removed from most settings as we learn to live with COVID-19, there are still restrictions in place for hospitals and other healthcare settings.

COVID-19 and its prevalence continues to affect our ability to deliver services, and these restrictions are in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. We must do all we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our care.

We understand that having these restrictions in place despite the end of restrictions elsewhere can be confusing, but they are in place to allow to keep delivering our services and to protect vulnerable people. Thank you for your continued kindness, patience and understanding.

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
  • Changing our normal visiting arrangements so we reduce the amount of people coming into our hospitals

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.

From Thursday 12 May 2022, inpatients in our hospitals will be able to have two visitors at their bedside. Visitors will not have to book a slot to visit, and visiting hours will be 2pm – 4pm and 6.30pm – 7.30pm.

People attending outpatient services can be accompanied by one person if they would like support.

Please remember, you can help us to help you and your loved one by:

  • wearing your face mask at all times when inside our buildings (unless you have a medical exemption)
  • washing your hands and/or using the hand sanitiser when you arrive and when you leave
  • providing updates for your family and friends after your visit

Please do not visit our hospitals if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or any other infection (such as diarrhoea and vomiting).

We will continue to regularly review our visiting arrangements in line with NHS and Government guidance and local public health advice. We are truly grateful for the kindness, patience and understanding you have shown our staff during the past two years while we have had visiting restrictions in place.

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

Our Minor Injuries Units (MIU) in Dawlish and Totnes Community Hospitals remain closed due to staffing levels and the current level of demand on our services. If you have a minor injury, please visit our Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Newton Abbot Community Hospital

We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause our local communities. Thank you for your understanding at this time.

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 affected by 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 healthcare professional 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

We’re starting to build our new Acute Medicine Unit (AMU) at Torbay Hospital, and the construction will impact access to Outpatients Level 2. For a full list of changes to access please see New Acute Medicine Unit – Changes to access to Level 2 Outpatients.

*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 you are 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 in the vulnerable category or have been asked to shield previously you may wish to self-isolate for the 14 days leading up to your operation. Even if you are not in these categories self-isolation for 14 days is still an option for you.
  • 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
  • If you are receiving a date for urgent surgery please adhere strictly to these guidelines as soon as you are informed of your date.

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 ‘step-down’ 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.

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

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