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Coronavirus – latest information and advice

Last updated: Monday, 23 March 2020

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

For all the latest information including the risk of COVID-19 in the UK, symptoms of Coronavirus, how it is spread and advice around public places and self-isolation, visit the NHS website (opens in new window).

Visitors to our hospitals

The following visitor restictions apply to Epsom Hospital, St Helier Hospital, Molesey Hospital, Dorking Hospital and NEECH.

To continue to keep our patients and staff safe, we will no longer be allowing visitors to any of our adult inpatient wards. We kindly ask family members to instead keep in touch via telephone or video calls, where possible.

Exceptions to visitor restrictions will be made only in the following circumstances, and only with the consent of the nurse in charge:

  • If a patient is receiving end-of-life care
  • Children under 16 on our inpatient wards – one visitor allowed at a time
  • Women in labour in our maternity unit – one birthing partner allowed.

Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this time.

For the latest guidance and advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Phoning inpatients

Patients can call for free from the Hospedia terminals to 01, 02, 03 telephone numbers . Without paying any fee, patients can receive phone calls on a personalised phone number. All they need to do is register their details to get started. By registering, they get their own phone number to give to friends and family. Friends and family call the number the patient gives them and they will be connected directly to the patient. This is a 07 phone number so charges apply for people calling in.

We would like to thank all patients and visitors for their support, patience and co-operation. We appreciate these restrictions and measures will cause concern but our focus is to maintain patient safety and prevent the spread of infection. If you’d like further information, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at est-tr.PALS@nhs.net.

Advice for those with appointments at our hospitals

Patients should continue to attend their appointment as usual unless informed otherwise or if they have specific concerns around COVID-19 or have returned from one the countries listed as having a higher risk of Coronavirus. 

Homebirth services

The maternity team at Epsom and St Helier hospitals is committed to the absolute safety of our mothers, babies and staff.  In light of the current COVID-19 situation and nationwide lock-down, it is with regret that we have taken the decision to suspend the homebirth service.

We wish to reassure all families using our services, that we have not taken this decision lightly or without considerable thought to any suitable other options.  Our decision has been driven by the key factors listed below;

  • The ambulance service is under considerable pressure, and a timely response to calls for transfer to the maternity unit in an emergency cannot be guaranteed.
  • Our midwifery staff numbers are stretched due to many self-isolating, and unprecedented clinical demands on the NHS as a whole, and we cannot currently accommodate sending two midwives out at one time.
  • In order to protect our staff, and others, against the spread of infection, we must ensure full infection control procedures, advice for PPE and limited contact guidance is adhered to.  This is becoming problematic in the home environment.

We fully understand that this will be disappointing news for those who have chosen a homebirth.  We would welcome all women currently booked onto the homebirth team in our midwifery-led birth centres, and wherever possible, we will provide one of the homebirth midwives to care for you.  Please be assured that this is a very safe option, and we are following all recommended infection control precautions.

Please be advised that this suspension is in place with immediate effect, and will be reviewed when the national lock-down restrictions, freedom of movement and normal staffing levels are restored.

Stay at Home: Guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How long to stay at home

  • If you have symptoms stay at home for 7 days
  • If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Advice on staying at home can be found here (opens in new window).

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

New advice to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (social distancing)

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

It is particularly important for people who:

  • are 70 or over
  • have a long-term condition
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system
Do
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • 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
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • only travel on public transport if you need to
  • work from home, if you can
  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • avoid events with large groups of people
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
Don't
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family

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