As we continue to move out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have removed many of our remaining Covid-19 measures in line with national NHS guidance.

We've learned a lot over the past two years which is helping us understand how best to keep everyone safe as we return to more usual ways of working. We are now focusing more on best practice prevention and control measures for key infections, not just Covid-19.

Currently:

  • you are not required to wear a face mask or physically distance in non-clinical areas, including entrances, lifts, stairwells and restaurants
  • we have removed the requirement to wear masks in some clinical areas – depending on the risks of infection for patients and staff. You will not be required to wear a mask in most outpatient, maternity or diagnostic clinic waiting areas
  • you are required to wear a mask in inpatient areas and clinical treatment rooms (including outpatient and diagnostic treatment rooms)
  • our staff – along with signs around the area – will let you know if you are in an area where you still need to wear a mask
  • visiting has returned to our pre-pandemic approach. You do not need to book a visiting time but, as before, you will need to check visiting hours for the specific ward or unit. If you are visiting someone who has an infection – or who is especially vulnerable to infection – you will be required to wear a face mask and, in some cases, other personal protective equipment. Staff locally will let you know what is required. Find out more about visiting 
  • if you are coming in for an outpatient, maternity or diagnostic appointment, you are welcome to have someone with you. However, for A&E, please attend alone wherever possible – space remains very limited and there is always more risk of infection in A&E departments. We will keep our approach for A&E under review.

In addition, there are many measures in place that you will not see that help to keep everyone safe:

  • our staff will test if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 and stay away from work if they test positive
  • we have separate care areas for patients who have – or may have – Covid-19 or other respiratory infections

As always, for anyone coming in to our hospitals:

  • do not come if you have any symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as flu or Covid-19 (unless emergency attention is needed)
  • use hand sanitiser or wash your hands as you enter the hospital and when entering or leaving any department
  • follow any local infection prevention and control measures, as advised by staff and signage
  • you are always welcome to wear a mask if you wish to do so, even where it is no longer a requirement.

What if I’m exempt from wearing a face mask?

If you are asked to wear a face mask in a particular area but are exempt from doing so, speak to our clinical staff. They will find suitable, alternative ways for you to wait, be treated or visit in order to manage the additional risks to you and those around you.

Covid-19 vaccination

We continue to urge everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Read more about Covid-19 vaccinations and how to book one. 

Planned care

You no longer need to take a lateral flow test or PCR test before you come into hospital if you do not have Covid-19 symptoms. This is in line with the latest government guidance.

In some exceptional circumstances your doctor may still ask you to do a test, but this is very rare. This would be discussed with you before your admission to hospital.

If you have recently tested positive for Covid-19, please call the ward number on your appointment letter to get further advice.

All patients should look at the Covid-19 checklist before coming into hospital to check if they have any Covid-19 symptoms.

If you develop Covid-19 symptoms within ten days leading up to your procedure or surgery, do not come into hospital, please take a lateral flow test at home within 24 hours before your appointment and call the ward number on your appointment letter to let us know your result, so that we can provide further advice.

Waiting times

During the height of the pandemic, as we had to focus more on caring for patients with Covid-19 and other urgent and emergency needs, our waiting lists for planned care grew. It is the same across the whole NHS. Our clinicians prioritise all patients waiting for care according to individual clinical need. Waiting times will be different for different people, even those with the same condition. If you require care more urgently, you will be seen more quickly. We are increasing our planned care capacity and have a number of other initiatives in place to help reduce our waiting times as quickly as possible.

If you or a family member are waiting for hospital treatment, you can access the NHS My Planned Care digital platform which provides the latest average waiting times across all NHS trusts.

The My Planned Care platform also provides helpful advice and support while you are waiting, including details on how to manage any pain, your mental health, keeping healthy and accessing financial help and other local support. It can also help you to prepare for your care, including how to make a plan for your care and treatment alongside your healthcare professional.

Find out more about preparing to come into hospital for a planned procedure or surgery.