Like the rest of the capital, hospitals across north west London are now very busy. We’ve launched plans to care safely for this increase in patients and actions include standing up additional critical care capacity with some staff redeployed and on standby for redeployment to support patients.

Pausing planned procedures

With admission rates still rising due to Covid-19, we have made a decision to reduce our levels of non-urgent, planned care. This will allow us to continue to provide all urgent and emergency care, including cancer care. 

Patients who are affected by this decision will be contacted directly as soon as possible. If you do not hear from us, patients should visit hospital or attend your phone/video appointment as planned. 

We are already taking every precaution to ensure our patients, visitors and staff are safe in our hospitals and encourage patients that require urgent or emergency care to access the support they need.

We know this will be disappointing news for those waiting for planned treatment, and we are sorry for this. We will monitor this position on an on-going basis so that we can stand back up non-urgent care as soon as possible.

If you are asked to come into hospital, there are several steps to follow before you can come to hospital for your procedure or surgery. This page will take you through each step in detail and provide advice on how to travel to and from hospital safely when required.

Before coming to hospital  

If you are asked to come to the hospital, please follow these instructions for every visit:

  1. Complete the Covid-19 checklist  before every single visit to the hospital. (This must be done on the same day you are visiting the hospital)
  2. Ensure you have followed the self-isolation guidance if you have been asked to do so by your consultant or care team
  3. Wear a face covering (face coverings can be any fabric, such as a scarf or bandana, and should cover the mouth and nose. Find out How to make a cloth face covering on the Public Health England website.
  4. Avoid public transport, and wear a face covering while travelling, whether you use hospital transport, a family car or a taxi
  5. Use hand sanitiser or wash your hands when you arrive at the hospital

Covid-19 check list - preparing for your procedure or surgery

You will be asked to complete a checklist every time before visit the hospital, whether for a face-to-face assessment, test or on the day of your procedure.

1. Initial assessment

Your first assessment for your procedure or surgery will be either a telephone or video call with your consultant or care team.

2. Preparing to come to hospital, including self-isolation if required

If you are coming to hospital for a procedure or surgery, we ask that you take extra care in the ten days before your procedure or surgery. Please follow physical distancing rules (keep a two-metre distance from others), wear a face covering and practise good hand hygiene (wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds each time).

Do I need to self-isolate too?

You do not need to self-isolate before your procedure or surgery unless your consultant or care team asks you to. We are following national guidance on when self isolation is necessary to help ensure you are not infected with Covid-19. We are asking most patients to self-isolate for three days but the time may vary. You may not need to self-isolate at all, for example if you are coming in for a simple x-ray.

You may be advised to self-isolate for longer if you have significant health conditions that may require you to take extra precautions. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your consultant or care team and, if you think you will have difficulty self-isolating, please let them know.

What does self-isolating mean?

Self-isolating means you need to stay at home and avoid contact with anyone inside or outside your home. Your consultant or care team will advise you on whether you need to self-isolate and for how long.

Where possible this means that all members of your household should stay at home during this time as well.

If you live with others there are some practical steps you can take. These are:

  • staying physically apart as much as possible. Sleeping in separate rooms and using different bathrooms where possible. We do recognise that many patients are not able to do this
  • minimising the amount of time you spend in shared spaces such as the kitchen
  • trying to stay at least two metres (three steps) apart
  • regularly cleaning, with disinfectant, any surfaces you use a lot, such as kitchen counters
  • not using the same towels or crockery and making sure everything has been washed thoroughly before it is used by someone else.

3. Hospital assessment

Some patients may be asked to attend hospital in person for a specific investigation or assessment. This could include:

  • to see the anaesthetist
  • to have a test for common infections, such as MRSA
  • to have blood tests or x-rays
  • to have other specific tests, such as an ECG

If you need to come to hospital, we will explain why. If you are attending for a test or minor procedure, you may be asked by your consultant or care team to self-isolate before you attend. Please make sure you follow the advice about ‘Before coming to hospital’ at the top of this page and the instructions on self-isolating if you have been asked by your consultant or care team to do so.

4. Covid-19 testing

About three days before your procedure or surgery, you will be booked to come in for a Covid-19 test.

The test is a simple swab of the tonsils, back of the throat and nose.

When you travel for this appointment, you must wear a face covering and try to avoid public transport.

As part of a home-testing initiative in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, some patients are being invited to take a home test rather than having a test in hospital. Your care team will contact you directly if this is the case.

If you have been asked to self-isolate, you must continue do so after this test until your procedure.

These tests are a priority to ensure you able to have the procedure or surgery you need. You will be called with your result the day before your procedure. If you test positive, we will delay your procedure and you will need to self-isolate for at least ten days in accordance with government guidance.

5. The day of your hospital procedure or surgery

On the day of your procedure please ensure you have followed our instructions before coming to hospital for any appointment at the top of this page - this is very important .

You may be asked to use a particular car park and hospital entrance, so please check your clinic letter for details on where to go when you arrive.

Make sure you use the hand sanitiser as you enter the hospital or wash your hands. Please keep on your face covering, in line with government guidance on public spaces. If you are not sure where to go please ask for help or directions from the staff at the hospital entrance or the receptionists.

Please do not go into any other wards or clinical areas other than those you need to visit. If you need to have a carer with you, they should also have been following guidance on preparing for hospital, including self-isolation where required, and you should have discussed with your care team in advance.

When you get to the treatment area you will be greeted by hospital staff who will take your temperature and confirm your  Covid-19 check list.

Staying overnight in hospital

If you are staying overnight in hospital following your procedure or surgery, please only bring essentials with you. 

On the ward, all beds are spaced out to make sure you are not too close to other patients. The shower and toilet facilities on the ward will be cleaned after each patient use. If you feel more comfortable doing so, you can choose to wear a face covering while on the ward, unless you have a medical oxygen mask and/or your care team advises you not to wear a face covering for medical reasons. 

If at any time you feel anxious about being on the ward, make sure you speak to a member of staff. We are sorry but visitors are only permitted in exceptional circumstances currently. Your next of kin will be able to call the ward to find out how you are and there are other ways that you can keep in touch. Mobile phones and tablets can be used and we offer free premium wifi so, if you have one of these devices, you can bring it with you.

On most wards you will also be able to borrow a device – please ask a member of staff on the ward to help. We have a comprehensive inpatient information booklet with more information about your stay.  Find out more about staying overnight in hospital or ask a member of staff on the ward.

When you are ready to go home

We recommend that a friend, carer or family member collects you from the entrance of the hospital. If you need help to get to the entrance to meet them, one of our porters or nursing staff will assist you.

Depending on the nature of your procedure and recovery your consultant or care team may advise you to continue to self-isolate after leaving hospital. This additional period of self-isolation is a precaution as your immune system will be working hard to help your body to recover from the surgery you have had.

If you need any further information about your procedure or surgery, please call the number on your hospital letter.

Frequently asked questions

I was shielding, is it safe to come to hospital?

If you were shielding or you are a vulnerable person, you may still attend your hospital appointments but please follow the instructions on this page carefully. Please let the department you are visiting know you were shielding or you are a vulnerable person during your phone assessment and when you arrive at the hospital.

Are visitors allowed with me?

We are sorry but we still need to limit visitors to our hospitals to keep everyone safe. There are exceptional circumstances when visitors will be allowed - please ask your care team for more information.

Carers are welcome to come to hospital to support patients' health and social needs. Although there are restrictions on visitors coming to hospitals, a familiar carer or supporter is not considered a visitor. We recognise carers play a vital role in supporting patients’ communications needs – particularly where a patient has dementia, learning disabilities and/or autism. We can provide carers with a ‘carers passport’ so that each patient’s main carer can be identified easily. If you think you may need a carer with you, please discuss this with the department before your visit.

Will the hospital be busy?

When you attend the hospital there will be only a few patients in waiting areas and public areas have been adapted to support physical distancing.

Will the hospital be cleaned regularly?

Our staff are undertaking additional, regular cleaning and other infection control measures.

Do you need to physical distance in hospital?

Yes - please stay at least two metre away from others in public areas whenever possible, even though you are wearing a face covering.

Useful links:

Patient information

Important information for patients coming into hospital for a procedure or surgery