As you will be aware, the NHS has come under great strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the non-urgent hospital and community services were ‘paused’ - both as a safety precaution and to allow us to deliver the urgent care necessary.
There are still measures in place which impact on the number of patients we are able to see and treat. If you are still waiting for your appointment, we appreciate that you may be disappointed and would like to reassure you that we will be in touch with you directly within the next three months with more information about when you may receive your appointment. If you have already received yours, please attend that appointment as planned.
Unless the clinician needs to see you to physically examine or observe you, all outpatient appointments will be carried out via telephone or video clinics. This will enable us to continue to prevent people making unnecessary trips to hospitals and community setting wherever possible.
If you need diagnostic tests such as scans, x-rays, blood tests, etc, you will still be required to attend for your appointment in person. Find out more about virtual appointments here.
If you are being admitted to hospital for a planned (non-emergency) operation, you and any members of your household will be asked to isolate at home for 14 days prior.
Where possible, you may be asked to complete a test within 72 hours before going to hospital. This will be arranged for you and you will be contacted with further details before your appointment.
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. Our admissions team will give you all the information you need when booking you in.
Many people with cancer might be anxious about the impact of coronavirus on their treatment and care. Some people may also be worried about waiting for a referral for investigations.
The NHS is working hard to make sure that cancer treatments can continue in the best way possible. Your doctor will discuss what they think is the best option for you in the current situation.
If you are having cancer treatment, please continue with your treatment and care plan as agreed with your healthcare team. Your treatment may continue as planned or there may be some alterations which will be discussed with you. If for example, the risk of continuing is potentially higher than giving you a break from or delaying treatment, this may be recommended. Any decisions regarding your treatment will be made with you.
If you have a specific question about your treatment, you can ask your team.
Even during the pandemic, our maternity services are still open.
If you are pregnant, it is important that you still attend any antenatal appointments and scans, and continue to seek advice from your midwife or maternity team if you are worried about your health or the health of your unborn baby.
It is really important that women have a midwife with them when they are giving birth to ensure they and their baby are safe. Women can still choose to have a home birth, or give birth at our maternity units at Furness General Hospital or the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Helme Chase, the Trust’s Midwifery-led unit at Westmorland General Hospital is temporarily closed for births as Midwives are deployed to other areas of the service, including helping to support more complex births in our hospitals and supporting women and families in the community.
Local people can be reassured that maternity and birthing services are separate to NHS services treating COVID-19 patients, so the risk of catching COVID-19 from these patients is minimal.
In line with national guidance, and to keep local mums and babies safe, our visiting arrangements for antenatal appointments and births are as follows:
- Partners, relatives, or children should not accompany women to antenatal appointments. One named birthing partner can attend the 20 week scan.
- One named birth partner can attend the birth - this includes during the induction process and throughout labour. Birthing partners should stay in the room with their loved one unless it is absolutely necessary to leave
- Birthing partners are not allowed to stay overnight after the birth
Coronavirus swab tests are being offered to ALL women and/or birth partners who need to be admitted overnight to our maternity unit regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. Find out more about Routine Swabbing for COVID-19 Maternity Admissions here.
Things to remember when visiting our hospitals
You need to wear a face covering when you come to hospital as a visitor or outpatient. Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.
We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please see a member of staff on arrival and we will provide you with one.
For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival.
If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.
To stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with. This is called social distancing.
Try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble).
There are markings and signs throughout our hospital sites to help you.
Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses including coronavirus.
wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
wash your hands as soon as you get home
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards