Access to Hospital Outpatient Services
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many hospital services have been disrupted leading to longer waiting times for some treatments. Health care professionals are working together to restore hospital services and, wherever possible, avoid the need for patients to attend face to face outpatient appointments at the hospital unless this is necessary. This will all be done in discussion with you.
As hospital services are restarted Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, like all other hospitals across the country, are implementing a number of changes in the way they see patients which may include telephone or video appointments as well as the usual face to face appointments.
Prior to referral to hospital specialist
Your GP may seek advice from a hospital specialist on how best to treat your condition. The specialist may advise diagnostic tests or a course of treatment that can be arranged by your GP.
Referral to hospital specialist – what happens next?
Your GP is no longer able to directly book outpatient appointments at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch or Kidderminster Hospital & Treatment Centre, but will provide the hospital specialist with your full clinical details for consideration of your condition. The specialist will consider your medical history and the results of any diagnostic tests or treatments previously undertaken. Following this, a hospital outpatient appointment may be booked for you. This could be a telephone, video, or face to face appointment. You will receive notification of this within 28 days of GP referral, please do not contact your GP or hospital prior to this. The waiting time for this appointment will be prioritised by the specialist based on clinical criteria.
What do you need to do?
Once you and your GP have agreed on a referral being made, if you have the facility to receive texts, you will receive a text asking you to answer a few simple questions concerning whether or not:
- you agree to a video or telephone appointment
- you are able to access a video or telephone appointment
- you consent to being contacted via email
- your email address and telephone number on your patient records is up to date
- If you have a preferred hospital
- you agree to receiving patient information to support you in managing your condition.
If you agree to a video consultation you will be provided with further information on how this will be conducted and what you need to do to prepare.
If you do not have a mobile or access to the internet please ensure your GP is aware of this.
Who to contact if your condition deteriorates?
If your condition worsens or causes concern while you are waiting to be seen by the hospital specialist, please contact your GP. For more information on how to manage your health please see the NHS website. https://www.nhs.uk/
Produced on behalf of:
NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Guidance Note for Parents of Children who are Self-Isolating
Children can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it is usually less serious. Symptoms of Coronavirus in Children The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
• a high temperature
• a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot, for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
• a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
What to do if your child has symptoms or has been asked to self isolate by their school:
If your child has any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
1. Get a test to check if they have coronavirus as soon as possible. Tests can be accessed through the GOV .UK website. Your GP is unable to order these tests for you. https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/antigen/name
2. Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get the test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Get advice from NHS 111 if you're worried about your child or not sure what to do.
• For children aged 5 or over – use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
• For children under 5 – call 111. For further information on when it may be appropriate to speak to your GP please follow this link:
Government Advice for Those Shielding in England
he Government advice for those shielding in England is changing soon.
For now, you continue to be advised to follow the shielding guidance rigorously.
This letter explains how the guidance is changing, why it is changing and what the change in advice means for you.
We know that shielding has not been easy for you and anybody living with you and we would like to thank you for your resilience over the last few months. However, it has been important for you to shield while the virus was widespread; thankfully the number of people with the virus, and so the risk to you, is coming down.
What is the current guidance?
Over the course of the last three months, you have been identified as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable due to an underlying disease or health condition that may put you at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). This remains the case and you are advised to follow the shielding guidance rigorously.
You were advised to ‘shield’ to protect yourself during the peak of the epidemic in England when you were more likely to come into contact with the virus in your daily life. The initial shielding guidance advised that you should stay at home at all times and strictly avoid non-essential face-to-face contact.
On 1 June the shielding guidance was slightly relaxed, and we suggested that you may wish to spend some time outdoors away from your home once a day.
This change was based on scientific evidence that the initial peak of the pandemic had passed in the UK and, in general, the likelihood of meeting someone in the community with infection had significantly reduced.
Like all our guidance to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, this was advisory. The current guidance can be found online at WWW.GOV.UK.
What is changing?
Throughout the epidemic we have been clear on the need to balance the risk of the disease to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable with the benefits of gradually returning to normal life. We know that the shielding guidance has been challenging to follow and that it will take time to adjust.
The latest scientific evidence shows that the prevalence of disease across all English regions has continued to decline. If this trend continues as we expect it to, the Government will further relax its shielding advice in two stages on 6 July and 1 August.
From 6 July:
- You may, if you wish, meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing.
- You no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of your household.
- In line with the wider guidance for single adult households (either an adult living alone or with dependent children under 18) in the general population, you may from this date, if you wish, also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other's homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance. This is a small advisory change that brings those affected a step nearer others in their communities. However, all the other current shielding advice will remain unchanged at this time.
From 1 August the advice to ‘shield’ will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.
Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.
In practice, this means from 1 August you are advised that you no longer need to shield.
This means that from 1 August:
- You can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe.
- Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing.
- You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing.
- You should remain cautious as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.
More detailed guidance will appear on GOV.UK when the changes come into effect on 6 July and 1 August.
Will the position be reviewed?
After 1 August we will continue to keep your name on the Shielded Patient List. We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise you to shield again.
We have committed to reviewing the advice to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable at every review point of the wider social distancing measures. Should the scientific evidence require the Government to tighten the advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people, this will be communicated to you quickly and clearly.
The Government’s guidance to those most at risk of severe illness if they catch Coronavirus has always been advisory and based on the balance of risk to this group at a time when the transmission of Coronavirus has been highest in our communities.
We recognise everyone will feel differently about their own risk and have different priorities – our ambition has been to help and support you in looking after yourself through a very challenging period.
All Government decisions on shielding advice are led by the latest scientific evidence. The latest evidence shows that the chance of encountering Coronavirus in the community has continued to decline.
Four weeks ago, around one person in 500 had the virus. Last week it was even lower with less than one in 1,700 people having the virus. As a result, we believe that the time is now right to relax our advice to those shielding further, but we understand that it might take a while to get back to routine daily life again.
Support to stay at home
If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.
This will give you time to prepare for new advice that you can visit shops, including supermarkets, as you did before the shielding programme commenced, provided you follow strict social distancing.
We also recognise that, for some, this adjustment will take time.
We can confirm that seven supermarkets have given you access to priority supermarket delivery slots, and these will continue beyond the end of July for those already signed up for support.
If you have yet to register for support, please do so online at WWW.GOV.UK, or call 0800 028 8327, before 17 July so that support can reach you in time.
Local councils have also been providing support to those shielding. This has included a wide range of help to enable you to safely stay in your home, such as phone calls to reduce loneliness and meeting special dietary requirements.
In order to help people adjust, local councils will continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.
If you are struggling as a result of Coronavirus please visit www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support. If you do not have internet access, please contact your local council who will be able to signpost you to available support.
NHS Volunteer Responders
Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July. NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:
- Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies.
- A regular friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks.
- Transport to medical appointments.
Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support, or speak to your health care professional for transport support.
More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk.
Going back to work
You should discuss your situation with your employer and agree a plan for returning to work if you cannot work from home.
Your employer may need to make adjustments to help you continue to work. Please go to www.gov.uk/access-to-work for more information.
Separate Government guidance has been issued on how employers can make workplaces COVID-safe including how they can maintain social distancing and a system of risk management in your workplace.
You will be able to use this letter as evidence for your employer to show that you cannot work outside your home until 31 July, including for statutory sick pay purposes.
Accessing NHS services
You should continue to access the essential services that you need, and you should contact the NHS if you have an urgent or emergency care need.
If you have ongoing appointments scheduled for care and treatment your GP surgery or hospital clinic will contact you to confirm the most appropriate arrangements.
Mental Health Support
It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low.
If you are still struggling to cope we would urge you to speak to your GP.
If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell), you must self-isolate at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.
Go to the NHS website to arrange a test or contact NHS 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access.
A sample box has been installed at the rear of the building for patients to leave their samples for testing.
The correct sample container should be used, which can be purchased at any pharmacy. Please write clearly on the container name, dob and NHS number if known.
Should I wear a face mask or face covering?
The governments of all UK nations are now recommending that people wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, where:
- social distancing may not be possible
- you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.
For more information about Asthma and wearing a face covering please click on the link below:
GP Practice Covid 19 Information & Guidance
For advice on COVID 19 please take a look at the following helpful information that we have put together. This contains some frequent questions and answers along with guidance and advice on shielding letters.
Why has screening stopped?
Since March 2020, NHS Breast Screening services have been affected by a range of clinical and operational impacts due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since that time NHS England and Improvement, as commissioners of breast screening services, have been working with providers to restore services, focussing on the highest priority patient groups first.
When will these services be back to normal?
A reduction in screening capacity has been inevitable due to the requirements for personal protective equipment, enhanced infection control and social distancing to ensure that staff and clients stay safe.
When will invitations for screening be sent out for those whose invitations have been delayed?
A number of Midlands providers will move to open invitations in mid-August with more following on 30 September 2020. Open invitation letters will ask women to contact the service to book a convenient appointment by phone or email.
Changes to walk-in X-ray services
Changes are being made to walk-in X-ray services.
There is now an appointment booking service for urgent and walk-in radiology requests.
You will be contacted by the radiology booking team with an appointment time.
You must isolate whilst awaiting your appointment.
DO NOT attend the radiology department without an appointment.
Thank you for your cooperation
We understand that the phone lines may be experience an increase in calls however we have set up a call back system so that we can deal with the increase number of queries. If you have any questions regarding Coronavirus (COVID 19) you can complete a Coronavirus query form using our ONLINE CONSULT link on our home page.
Once you have submitted a form via Online Consult it will be picked up by the surgery.
Online Consult is updated regularly by Public Health England. Using the ONLINE CONSULT link on our home page you can complete a Coronavirus form this will then be sent direct to the surgery so that your symptoms can be triaged.