Coronavirus (Covid-19) information
The safety of our patients and staff remains our top priority. We will continue to maintain some of the safety measures that we have had in place over the course of the pandemic.
This will include asking you to wear a face covering in our hospitals if:
- you have Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms
- are visiting an area where patients are at higher risk, such as our Intensive Therapy Units, haematology, and oncology.
Masks will be provided on entry to these wards. Visitors accompanying outpatients who have Covid or flu symptoms will also be asked to wear a mask.
Symptoms of Coronavirus Covid-19
Stay home if you have either:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Use the NHS website to find out what to do; only call 119 if you cannot get help online.
Follow good hygiene practice
Good hygiene practices can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe, make sure you:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Bin the tissue and wash your hands or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
An introduction to Long COVID
What is Long COVID?
- Acute COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for up to 4 weeks.
- Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from 4 to 12 weeks.
- Post-COVID-19 syndrome (Long COVID): signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.
What are the symptons?
There are many signs and symptoms of Long COVID. The most common ones are:
- Extreme tiredness
- Depression and anxiety
- Fast heart-beat
- Widespread pain
- Chest pain or tightness
- Pins and needles
- Changes in taste and smell
- Changes in sleep/difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating and memory (“brain fog”)
What do I do if I have symptoms?
- The first step is to contact your GP. Please note that if your symptoms get worse, call 111 for more advice or for a medical emergency, dial 999 immediately.
- Your GP will undertake further tests to rule out any other conditions first (it is really important to make sure your symptoms are not being caused by other conditions, for example cancer).
- Depending on your test results, your GP may then refer you to our Long COVID services.
What support is available?
- Long COVID support is available for all our local residents in north east London. We are working hard to make sure they can get access to these services. This includes providing training and guidance for our GPs too.
- The support is made up of a range of services including: Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, General Practitioners, Rehabilitation Support Workers, Psychologically Trained Staff, Administrative Staff.
- There is no quick fix for Long COVID and symptoms vary considerably from patient to patient. However, there are many positive stories of patients recovering from Long COVID and improving their quality of life.
Where do I find out more information?
Information and links to our local Long COVID services can be found below:
More information on Long COVID and the national support available can be found below:
Wearing face coverings in our hospitals
All visitors and patients coming to hospital must wear face coverings in our hospitals if:
- you have Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms
- are visiting an area where patients are at higher risk, such as our Intensive Therapy Units, haematology, and oncology
- are a visitor accompanying an outpatient who has Covid or flu symptoms
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.
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 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.
Hospital discharge after Coronavirus (Covid-19)
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect the lungs and airways, caused by a virus called a coronavirus. Most patients will experience only a mild illness. Some patients will however need to be admitted to hospital.
Find out more about coronavirus from reliable sources:
What can I expect?
Being unwell with COVID-19 will have affected you physically and mentally. It will take time, often several weeks or months to fully recover from the infection and this is normal.
It is important to follow advice from your doctor, and to be vigilant for any changes in your symptoms:
- A dry cough in isolation is typical post infection with viral infections like COVID-19 and may last several weeks. However, if your cough changes and you start to produce coloured phlegm, or more phlegm than usual, contact your GP. This could be a sign of infection and your GP can advise on possible medication.
- Other symptoms that are commonly noticed include fatigue and breathlessness. It is likely that these will resolve with time.
- If you notice any worsening of your symptoms upon discharge such as worsening breathlessness you should seek a review by medical professional.
- For other advice, call NHS 111 or use NHS 111 online.
- In an emergency situation, call 999 for an ambulance.
What follow up will I require?
We are still learning about COVID-19 and the impact that this may have on patients in the short and long term. It is anticipated that the recovery will vary from person to person and whilst many may have no symptoms some patients may notice symptoms many months after their initial infection. Further follow up may be necessary dependent upon your recovery.
If you were admitted with severe infection and required admission to the intensive care or acute respiratory unit you may be contacted to undergo a repeat chest x-ray and telephone assessment upon discharge to support your recovery. A face to face review may also be offered if felt clinically necessary. For patients with less severe infection admitted to a general ward a further review upon discharge is recommended with your General Practitioner if you have ongoing symptoms that do not improve. A chest x-ray is also likely to be requested prior to this review and you will be notified of this if required.
Are you feeling anxious?
Many patients will understandably be anxious after going home and we would recommend for advice on managing anxiety you read: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid19-anxiety-tips/
- Samaritans - free call on 116 123 or https://www.samaritans.org/
- SANE - 07984 967708 or http://www.sane.org.uk/
- Mind - 0300 123 3393 or https://www.mind.org.uk/
Keep taking your medications as prescribed. The medications you need to take will be written on your discharge summary. This will include:
- Your medications that you were taking before you came into hospital and that you should continue.
- Any new medications that have started including short-term medication, for example an antibiotic, and for how long you should take them.
- Don’t run out of your medications - order in good time as pharmacies are busier than usual.
- Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
- Try to have a balanced diet, with at least 5 portions of different fruit and vegetables every day.
- Ask neighbours, family & friends to help you with your shopping if needed, or order online.
For more advice on healthy eating, go to: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/
Rest and Relaxation
- Give yourself time to rest and relax.
- Stay in touch with others by phone, video calls and email.
- Think of existing or new hobbies you can enjoy doing at home while you recover.
For advice on looking after your mental health and wellbeing, read: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-yourmental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak
To help you relax before you go to bed, try following this video on mindfulness and meditation: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/bedtime-
NELFT Mental Health Direct - 0300 555 1000 or https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/services-mental-health-direct/
- It is important that you gradually return to your everyday activities.
- You should not rush to do everything as soon as you return.
The aim should be to gradually increase what you are able to do. This will slowly increase your fitness level.
- Start off with shorter and less intense exercise spread out across the week or gradually increase the amount and intensity of exercise you do over time.
- If you are feeling well, go for one brisk walk, jog or cycle outside, which is in line with government guidelines.
- Exercise at home - follow the links below for ideas and programmes.
- 10-minute home workouts from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/10-minute-home-cardioworkout/
- Home exercise video from the British Heart Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5YX5xg8Seg
Manage your breathing
- Feeling breathless is common in patients who have been admitted for COVID-19.
- This should slowly improve together with your fitness level over time.
There are some simple techniques that can reduce the sensation of feeling short of breath:
- Lean with your back or side against a wall, with your feet slightly apart and away from the wall, and your arms resting by your sides. Breathe slowly and from lower down - with a hand on your abdomen (tummy), you should feel it rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
- Pace yourself when you are building up activities.
- Use music and relaxation techniques during these episodes. For further information, follow breathlessness advice on the British Lung Foundation’s website: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/breathlessness/how-tomanage-breathlessness
We realise that for many patients recovery may be difficult and given the uncertainty of the situation you may have many questions about your illness and recovery. The following resources may be helpful in answering some of these questions and provide you with valuable advice and guidance.
Post COVID-19 support Hub
A support hub set up by Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation (BLF) to provide information and dedicated support for people diagnosed with COVID, and their family members.
Coronavirus - supporting your recovery
https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ NHS and Multi-organisation developed information portal for patients recovering from COVID-19 infection. Useful advice on symptom management, support resources and self-management.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists - advice on how to manage post-viral (COVID-19) fatigue. https://www.rcot.co.uk/recovering-covid-19-post-viral-fatigue-and-conserving-energy
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy - advice and information of recovery, self-management techniques and additional resources https://www.csp.org.uk/public-patient/covid-19-road-recovery
No Going Back! The story of our transformation
Covid-19 presented the greatest challenge we have ever seen in the NHS in our lifetimes. Across the country we rose to meet that challenge, and none more so than here at our Trust.
We are incredibly proud of our staff and what they achieved, together with our system partners, in an incredibly short space of time. We are also very grateful to our local communities for the incredible support they have shown us.
Watch our video that features staff talking about the role they played in making some of the changes happen.
Here’s our story:
Almost overnight we changed the way we work across our hospitals, delivered services in completely different ways, reconfigured our estates, improved our digital capabilities, increased our critical care capacity, brought in innovative new ways of designing our workforce to meet the demands, and developed completely new approaches to training.
It has been hard and it has been relentless – and the way we have pulled together has been nothing short of extraordinary and brought so many positive changes to our hospitals. Keeping staff and patients safe drove all the decisions we made.
Critical care capacity was one of the key areas we knew we had to increase significantly to manage Covid-19 – we increased this five-fold and the team also managed to set up a renal dialysis unit in just 10 days! To support the critical care teams we launched a multi-disciplinary training programme for staff who have moved from areas such as Outpatients to wards, which was featured on BBC London. Some of them, like Coral, hadn’t worked on wards in many years; and theatre staff also moved from their current roles to support critical care. You can read Coral’s story and about Simon, John and Lawrie from our theatres team on our website.
We had to change the footprint of our wards so it was safe for both Covid and non-Covid patients and have had to be extremely agile to meet the changing demand and at the peak of the pandemic, had 20 dedicated Covid wards.
Working closely together as system, with our healthcare partners and the independent sector, has been fundamental in transforming services. Our cancer patients, whose weakened immune systems mean they are more susceptible to Covid-19, have been able to continue their treatments at nearby ‘Covid free’ hospitals. Trauma care has been carried out at the Independent Treatment Centre at King George Hospital.
We developed new discharge pathways with the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), and worked closely with care homes and other community partners, so we move patients back into the community to receive the most appropriate care, and ensure our hospital beds were available for those patients who needed them the most. As part of this work, NELFT implemented 117 rehab beds in just 14 days!
Three months ago our Outpatients departments were operating in ways that hadn’t changed for decades. In April and May more than 13,000 appointments were held on the phone so patients didn’t need to come into our hospitals. We also ran online ‘face-to-face’ clinics which we are continuing to expand. Plus our Physiotherapy service moved to seven days a week.
We were delighted that Magda Smith, our Chief Medical Officer, and our Divisional Director for Anaesthetics Tomas Gervais, featured on BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend to talk about how we’ve been managing our hospitals – listen to Magda’s first interview setting out the scene early on in the pandemic and listen to Magda and Tomas’ joint interview reflecting on how things were going a bit later on.
Improving the way we use digital technology has also meant virtual meetings are now business as usual, helping us to manage social distancing, and we have been able to support many of our staff members to work from home.
Other staff members were redeployed into new roles, from Finance teams managing our front desks, to Callum in our Education Centre delivering stock to our ward areas to help support our clinical staff. Read more about Callum’s story, including how he went from a desk job to walking 20,000 steps a day!
And we also recruited new people as temporary healthcare assistants. These include Kate, a former patient and long term volunteer whose life we saved when she was treated for a brain tumour in 2016, and Chris, who has come back to the NHS after stopping his nursing qualification ten years ago due to a stroke.
We know it’s been hard for our patients and their families with very strict visiting restrictions in place. Alongside the many donations of iPads to help families and their loved ones stay on touch, we launched our Thinking of you service so people could send in messages and photos. We received more than 1,000 in the first week and have since extended it for people to be able to send in messages to patients who are in hospital and do not have any family.
Everything we have achieved has been down to the dedication and commitment of our staff and we know the huge impact this is having on them. Looking after them has been, and continues to be, one of our key priorities throughout the pandemic. We have put in place a package of support, from wellbeing rooms to take a well-earned rest and wobble rooms to help relieve any anxieties, through to drop-in coaching and online yoga. We also launched our Listen Hear psychology service for staff to call or see our professionally trained team face to face. It’s also hard on family members who may be feeling anxious with their loved ones treating patients in our hospitals, so Joe Fielder, our Chair, and Tony Chambers, our Chief Executive, sent them a letter to thank them for their support.
Last but not least, a thank you to our residents. Your support has been invaluable and thanks to your generosity, our charity have had a great time delivering more than 100,000 portions of food and drink, sofas to our wellbeing rooms, and more than 12,500 Easter eggs!
Our journey will continue as we learn to live with covid over the coming months. We will keep you updated on the changes we make to ensure we keep you safe. And if you watch our latest video, our staff will tell you why there is no going back!