Your stay in hospital
We understand you may be worried about coming into hospital for a procedure or surgery, or concerned about a friend or relative who is an inpatient. Please be assured we are taking every precaution to keep our patients safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Protecting our patients and staff
We are taking every precaution to protect our patients and staff, and that is why we are asking all patients and their carers to familiarise themselves with our new procedures for coming into hospital. We have developed a leaflet to help guide our patients through some of the changes we've made for inpatients in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Download our leaflet to learn more.
Face coverings for patients
All members of the public now have to wear face coverings when in hospital – whether they are visiting a patient or going to an outpatient appointment. This is to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others.
Face coverings can be cloth or home-made, or be a scarf or bandana, and should cover the mouth and nose. Please bring your own face-covering. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose. Children and babies under three years should not wear a face covering.
Once you are admitted to hospital, you will be provided with surgical masks to wear. If you leave the ward or clinical area at any point to go to another part of the hospital, you should take off your mask, put it in the bin, and replace it with a new mask which we can provide you with.
For more information on how to make your own face covering, visit Gov.UK website.
Exemption badges for those unable to wear face mask or covering
If you are unable to wear a face mask or face covering while in a public place, or need assistance due to your age, health or disability, you can print off a badge to let other people know. You can also print off a badge if you need people to take off their mask or face-covering so you can better understand what they say.
If wearing a face-covering is difficult for you, or if you are deaf or hearing impaired, please contact the number on your clinic letter before you come into hospital.
You may need to stay at one of our hospitals to have a procedure or receive treatment, either overnight as an inpatient or during the day as a day patient. If your stay is planned you will receive a letter with the date you need to come to hospital (your admission date). If you have any questions about your admission date, please call the phone number on your letter.
Before your stay
Before coming to hospital for a planned procedure or for surgery, and any time you visit hospital you will need to complete a Covid-19 checklist. Depending on the procedure or surgery you are coming in for you will be asked to self-isolate and three days before your planned surgery or procedure you will be asked to have a Covid-19 test. All patients, and their carers, need to wear face coverings at all times while in hospital and observe social/physical distancing rules.
What to bring to hospital
If you are coming to stay in hospital either overnight or as a day patient, please bring with you:
- A face covering to wear when arrive at the hospital
- Your address and phone number
- Your admission letter and appointment card
- The name, address and phone number of your GP
- A list of any medication you are taking, including non-prescription medicines and inhalers
- Up-to-date details of your next of kin or emergency contact details
- Payment for any prescriptions, or an exemption card
- Toiletries if you are staying overnight
You may also want to bring:
- A toothbrush, toothpaste and soap, tissues
- A hairbrush or comb
- Any glasses, hearing aids or dentures that you wear
- Manual or cordless razor and shaving foam Contact phone numbers for your relatives, friends and carers
- Things to do, such as reading material, writing material, a personal music player, a mobile or tablet device if you have one (must be used with headphones)
Please don’t bring:
- Valuables or large sums of money
- Large items — you will only have a small bedside cupboard to store your belongings in
- An alarm clock — this may disturb other patients
Getting to hospital
We advise giving yourself plenty of time to get to hospital and to find where you need to go.
- Avoid public transport duringthe Covid-19 pandemic and wear a face covering while travelling, whether you use hospital transport, a family car or a taxi
- 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.
- Find out about the different ways you can travel to each of our hospital sites
- Read more about hospital transport and whether you are eligible
- Do you need an interpreter?
If you need a foreign language interpreter or sign language interpreter, please contact us directly at least 48 hours before your admission on 020 3311 7697, or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Disabled access
Many of our buildings have disabled access and disabled accessible toilet facilities. Please view the maps/location information for each of our sites for more information. If you require a wheelchair, we will book for a porter to come and collect you when you arrive at our hospital reception.
- Learning disabled patients
We advise all patients with learning disabilities to bring a carer or friend with them to their pre-assessment appointment and on the day of their admission.
- Accessible information
If you need information, such as leaflets and advice in a different format e.g. brail or large text please email imperial.Accessible.Information@nhs.net
During your stay
When you arrive
Tell staff if you are taking medication or if you have brought any medication with you to hospital. If you need any special assistance while in hospital, let staff know.
Your inpatient stay
You may be concerned about being in the same hospital as patients being treated for coronavirus, if you do not have the virus yourself. However, we would like to reassure you we are doing everything we can to separate patients with coronavirus and those who are being treated for other conditions. Our staff are also following the most up to date advice on infection control.
The safety of our patients and staff is our priority so all patients are tested for coronavirus when admitted to one of our hospitals, even if you have no symptoms. The test may be done before you come to hospital, when you are admitted or during your stay.
If you test positive for coronavirus, it does not mean that you will become unwell with the symptoms. We will monitor you closely to check if you develop symptoms during
your stay. You may be moved to a different ward or clinical area and asked to wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other patients and staff.
Some tests and procedures may be postponed if you test positive for coronavirus. Speak to your clinical team if you are concerned about this.
We have developed a leaflet to help guide you through some of the changes we've made for inpatients in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Download our leaflet to learn more changes we've made to the way we run our hospitals and what you can expect from your inpatient stay.
We want you to have a safe and comfortable a stay with us. Unfortunately accidents sometimes happen in hospital, so for your safety we’d ask you to follow these eight, simple guidelines:
Who will look after me?
All of our staff wear name badges and will introduce themselves to you when they are involved in your care.
During your stay with us, a consultant (senior doctor), will have overall responsibility for your care. A doctor will usually examine you and talk through your medical history, and you will be introduced to a nurse who will look after you on the ward or unit where you are staying.
You will see a doctor during their daily ward round and this is a good opportunity to ask questions about your condition or the procedure or treatment you are having.
If you feel particularly strongly about seeing a female or male doctor, please let one of the staff on the ward know.
Nurses and midwives
Each ward is managed by a ward sister or charge nurse who wears a blue uniform. Groups of wards are supervised by senior nurses called matrons who wear a maroon coloured uniform. Nurses on our wards work in shifts and you’ll have a named nurse for every shift who’ll introduce themselves to you. If you are pregnant and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you will be looked after by a midwife. You may also meet other healthcare professionals such as healthcare support workers, physiotherapists and radiologists.
Consenting to treatment
Before your procedure, your doctor will explain what it involves and answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked for your consent. If you do not understand what you are being told, let the doctor know so they can clarify. No medical treatment will be given without your consent.
Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to maintain patient confidentiality. Information about you and your care is kept strictly confidential. Further information can be found here:
Visiting restrictions in hospital
To prevent the spread of infection and to protect our patients, we are currently only allowing visitors into our hospitals in exceptional circumstances including:
- for a patient at end of life
- one regular carer for a patient with additional needs, such as a patient with dementia
- one parent/guardian for a child
- one birth partner
Please speak to the nurse or midwife in charge of the ward or unit about visitors who fit these criteria.
All visitors to our sites must:
- wear face coverings at all times, and follow social distancing rules
- not come to the hospital if you are feeling unwell, including cold or flu symptoms
- wash or gel your hands as soon as you enter a ward or unit
- follow the additional measures that will be requested by our staff if you are visiting a patient with an infection
On the ward
Where will I stay?
You will usually be cared for on a ward specialising in the treatment of the condition or illness you have.
Wards are made up of separate bays and we will make sure that everyone in your bay is the same sex as you, although there may be both male and female patients staying on the same ward. There are separate bathrooms for men and women, and there are curtains around each bed to ensure your privacy.
If you need to have a test or procedure, we will provide you with hospital gowns and make sure your privacy and dignity is protected at all times.
The daily schedule varies from ward to ward. A day on the ward will usually begin early, as many patients have to receive treatment or medication. Breakfast is often served from 8.00.
If you have any questions about your ward or special requests, speak to the ward sister or charge nurse who manages the ward.
We screen all our patients for MRSA either before or within 24 hours of their admission to hospital. We can find out if you are carrying MRSA by taking a sample, using a swab, from your skin (generally the groin) and inside of your nose. A swab is like a cotton bud that is placed on the area to be tested. The test is painless and only takes a few seconds to complete.
We will provide you with a cupboard next to your bed for your personal belongings. Cupboards do not have a lock so we don’t recommend using them for valuables or large sums of money.
Keeping in touch
We have introduced several initiatives to help you keep in touch with family and friends during your stay in hospital. Learn more about keeping in touch.
Meals and meal times
Meals are provided free of charge. All our hospitals cater for a variety of dietary and cultural requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher. Please let our ward staff know if you have any special dietary requirements.
Meals are served at the following times:
- Breakfast: 08.00 to 09.00
- Lunch: 12.30 to 13.30
- Evening meal: 17.45 to 18.45
In between meals, drinks are served at approximately 10.15, 15.00 and 18.30, and include tea, coffee, Horlicks, hot chocolate, milk and squash. Snacks, such as fruit, cakes and biscuits, are offered twice daily at 10.15 and 15.00.
Each patient has a copy of the standard and cultural menus at their bedside. Depending on the ward where you are staying you will have the option of two standard menus:
- A la carte menu: a main menu where you can choose from a selection of 19 hot main dishes at each meal, alongside a range of salads and sandwiches
- Daily menu (week 1and Week 2): a two-weekly cycle of daily menus where you can choose from a number of mains and sides, and ‘light bites’ such as a jacket potatoes, omelettes, salads and sandwiches
Alongside the standard menus, we provide halal, kosher, Asian and African Caribbean menus. We also offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and allergen free meals, alongside low fibre and low fat meals.
Missed a meal?
Snack boxes are available for patients who have missed a meal because of treatment or tests or have been admitted or transferred and have not had the opportunity to eat. Speak to the ward sister or charge nurse if you have missed a meal. Details of the contents of snack boxes can be found in our menu.
Need extra help at meal times?
If you need extra help at meal times please let a member of the nursing staff know. For example, you may need help:
- choosing a suitable meal for your dietary requirements
- cutting up your food
Clean hands policy
We encourage all patients to wash their hands before eating. Please ask a member of staff if you need any assistance. A hand wipe will also be provided on your meal tray.
To help reduce the spread of infection, including coronavirus, you should wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds. Where soap and water are not available, please use hand sanitiser gel.
Please wash your hands (or apply hand sanitiser gel):
- before eating – ask a member of staff if you need any help and a hand wipe will also be provided on your meal tray to make hand hygiene before eating easier
- thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet
- before entering or leaving a ward. Hand sanitiser gel dispensers are near the entrance to all wards. Please speak to a member of staff if the dispenser needs refilling.
Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Please ask staff if they have washed their hands if you ever have any concerns that they may not have done so. All staff have training on infection control and effective hand washing and we check this practice regularly.
To make it easier for patients to keep in touch with family and friends, we have upgraded our NHS Wi-Fi service to allow for video calls and entertainment streaming services free of charge. This has been funded by Imperial Health Charity. To connect to the network, search for ‘NHS Wi-Fi’ on your mobile phone or laptop device and sign up. With the support of our Charity, we are also giving wards tablet devices for patients to use for virtual visiting if they do not have access to their own device. Speak to the staff on your ward for more details
Smoking and alcohol
Smoking is not permitted at any of our hospitals or in the grounds.
Alcohol is not permitted at any of our hospitals. If a patient is found with alcohol or illegal drugs, we reserve the right to withhold treatment. For illegal drugs we will also immediately inform the police.
We have a team of chaplains, and multi-faith representatives who can provide you with spiritual, emotional and pastoral support and advice.
After your stay
You will stay on a specialist, acute ward while you are acutely ill or having an operation. Once you are recovering and no longer need acute care, you may be moved to another ward where you can focus on getting better and preparing to go home. The recovery ward you move to will be in the same hospital or in another hospital within our Trust. Moving wards means you’ll be in the best environment to recover. It allows us to free up an acute hospital bed for another seriously ill patient who needs urgent treatment or surgery.
Rehabilitation for Trust surgical patients at Albert ward, St Mary’s
Albert ward is for patients who have just had surgery at one of Imperial College Healthcare’s hospitals – St Mary’s, Charing Cross or Hammersmith – and need a period of recovery and/or rehabilitation before they go home. You may stay on Albert ward at St Mary’s Hospital for a few days or weeks to help you recover and prepare to leave hospital.
Rehabilitation for Trust medical patients at Lady Skinner ward, Charing Cross
Lady Skinner ward is for patients who have just had medical inpatient care at one of Imperial College Healthcare’s hospitals – St Mary’s, Charing Cross or Hammersmith – and need a period of recovery and/or rehabilitation before they go home. You may stay on Lady Skinner ward at St Mary’s Hospital for a few days or weeks to help you recover and prepare to leave hospital.
When you are well enough to return home, we will talk to you, your family, friends or carer about your arrangements for leaving hospital. We will give you an estimated date for your discharge from hospital so you can begin making plans. Sometimes this date changes depending on your condition or treatment, and if this happens we’ll talk to you about it.
Once you have an estimated date for your discharge from hospital, you will need to make arrangements to travel home. You may need to ask a friend, relative or carer to collect you from hospital. You may be asked to wear a mask as you leave hospital. Some patients are eligible to use hospital transport – find out more here.
We have specialist discharge teams at each of our five hospitals, available seven days a week to support patients who are being discharged from hospital. The discharge team can support with organising:
- Transport home
- Follow-up care from the hospital or community services
- Social care
Our discharge teams look after the care of patients who have complex needs to make sure all the arrangements are in place to support their discharge.
If your doctor decides you need to take any medication after you have been discharged, the ward and pharmacy staff will give it to you before you leave. They will discuss your medication with you and any possible side effects.
Your discharge summary
When you are discharged, you’ll be given a paper summary of the care you’ve received with us, the results of any tests you’ve had, and any medication you’ve been prescribed. It may also contain isolation guidelines, if appropriate. We will send a copy of your summary electronically to your GP so they have an updated record of your condition and care, which will help them plan any follow up care you need. Your GP will be able to give you any further prescriptions of medication you need. Please contact your GP before your medication runs out and ask for a new prescription.
Liaison with social services
Many people need extra help from community social services or their local authority when they leave hospital. Before you leave hospital, a social worker or care manager may carry out an assessment of your needs – asking you about yourself and what you may need support with once you are discharged. The hospital ward staff or a member of our discharge team will liaise with social services or local community services on your behalf to put arrangements in place for when you leave hospital.
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