COVID-19

Visiting someone in hospital – latest arrangements

6 May 2021 | By |

Important visiting restrictions in hospital

To help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, we have changed visiting arrangements for our patients. These are the current visiting arrangements for the Royal Cornwall, St Michael’s and West Cornwall Hospitals.

General visiting for all patients at Royal Cornwall and West Cornwall Hospitals

  • All patients are allowed one named visitor for the duration of their hospital stay whilst on the inpatient wards (admitting areas are not included) unless exceptional circumstances arise (see below).
  • All visits must be approved by the nurse in charge BEFORE coming to hospital.
  • The named visitor is advised to undertake lateral flow testing, which must be recorded on the national testing database. If you are unable to do this, you may need to consider an alternative named person. You may be asked to have a lateral flow test on your arrival.
  • Even if you have had a negative lateral flow test, you must not visit if you have been:
    • in contact with someone who has had confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days
    • told to isolate by NHS Track and Trace
    • returned from an amber or red country within the last 10 days
    • experiencing any of the symptoms associated with possible COVID-19.
  • The visitor information form will need to be completed and the visitor must accept that they visit at their own risk.
  • Visits will be for no longer than 1 hour each day, at a time agreed by the ward team.
  • Appropriate PPE, specifically a surgical facemask, must be worn. Consider nominating an alternative visitor if masks cannot be worn. Social distancing guidance must be followed at all times.
  • Visitors must use the appropriate hand hygiene facilities before and after visiting.
  • Visitors must not visit any other patient within the ward / bay / hospital.
  • Visitors must sit on the visitor chair provided and not the patient chair. The visitor chair must be cleaned after use.
  • Visitor details will be recorded on a specific care plan to allow track and trace if required.
  • Where QR codes are displayed visitors are requested to scan.
  • Prior to visiting, please ensure you use the public facilities as these will not be available on the ward.
  • Visiting will be by exception only if a ward is closed as a result of an outbreak or is a designated COVID-19 ward.
  • Please do not arrive early for your visit as you will only be allowed on the ward at your designated time.

Additional visiting for exceptional circumstances including all visits to St Michael’s Hospital – adults

Critical Care, Coronary Care, Higher Care bay on Wellington Ward, HASU Higher Care Bay on Phoenix Ward, and the PICU on Harvest Ward:

One identified visitor per day by prior arrangement with the Ward Leader (this must be one of two identified people).

A person receiving end of life care, regardless of their COVID status:

  • The number of visitors will be limited to 3 close family members. This can be increased at the discretion of the Ward Leader to a maximum of 4 (from within the social bubble).
  • One visitor will be allowed for one hour, but more than one visitor can attend within a 24-hour period.

Exceptional circumstances

These will be referred by the Ward Leader for approval by a member of the Care Group Triumvirate / Senior Leadership Team and approved by one member of the Executive Triumvirate or out of hours Executive on Call.

Paediatrics

Two parents are allowed at any time.

Maternity services

From the beginning of pregnancy, all partners or support persons must commence twice weekly COVID-19 testing to enable approved visiting and attendance at appointments.

Pregnant women and people can have one support partner with them at:

  • Early pregnancy unit appointments
  • All maternity scan appointments, including growth scans
  • All antenatal clinic appointments (Community and hospital)
  • All community postnatal appointments
  • Day assessment visits
  • Throughout labour in Delivery Suite and birth centres
  • Wheal Fortune – between 2-5pm every day
  • Wheal Rose – your midwife will discuss with you further on the day or please phone the night before if you have a planned admission booked.

There may be limitations in visiting which differ from day to day and to protect everyone a daily risk assessment will take place on Wheal Rose each day.

To ensure everyone can stay safe:

  • All partners are asked to wear a mask at appointments and while moving around the building (unless exempt).
  • We ask that partners have a COVID-19 lateral flow test prior to visiting on the wards. You can go to a local test site, collect tests from a pharmacy or test site, or order them online. You can find your nearest site on the NHS England website or by calling 119.
    Visitors must report their result before coming to hospital.
  • We will open windows to allow for extra ventilation during visiting times – please ask a staff member for extra blankets for yourself or your baby if required.
  • Partners are asked to wear a surgical mask at all times whilst visiting in a bay.
  • Partners may be asked to wait outside, especially in settings with limited waiting room.
  • Please follow the guidance given by staff on the day of your appointment. The guidance will differ slightly depending on where you are having your appointment.

Remember…

You must not visit if you have any of these symptoms:
  • New continuous cough
  • High temperature
  • Changes to your sense of taste or smell

If you do, you must stay at home and either go online or call 119 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
You must not visit if you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace.

Keeping in touch when you’re unable to visit

Many patients with smartphones and mobile devices are keeping in touch using our free hospital Wi-Fi. However, we know that not all patients have this technology and we are helping them to keep touch with trust devices, telephone and other messaging options.

At the Royal Cornwall, West Cornwall and St Michael’s hospitals there is also a Staying Connected service where family members and close friends can send a message or photograph through volunteer patient ambassadors. They can email rcht.covidstayconnected@nhs.net leaving the patient’s name, date of birth and the name of the ward they are on (if known), together with the message they want to send, or they can call 01872 253793 and we will call them back.

For community hospitals family and friends can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service team by calling 01208 834620 or by emailing cpn-tr.Palscft@nhs.net.

We will continue to review our visiting policy on a regular basis throughout the pandemic and will do everything we can to help patients and families keep in touch.

NHS and care staff call on residents for support as demands on services rise

4 February 2021 | By |

Health and adult social care staff are calling on local residents for support ahead of the weekend as demand for the area’s services rises.

“We currently have high numbers of people in hospital beds across the county who are fit and ready for discharge”, explained Dr Tamsyn Anderson.

“We’re therefore asking families if they can help us, by supporting their relatives to go home from hospital as soon as they are medically fit, but who need a little extra help with basic needs such as cooking, washing and dressing.

“If people can provide this help for their relatives, it’ll mean we can free up beds in our hospitals for new emergencies and safely look after all of those who need our specialist care and support.”

Hospitals across Cornwall are seeing more poorly people, particularly elderly patients, who need our care. Many are also needing to stay longer in hospital which ultimately means more pressure on our emergency department and longer waits to be seen.

We are contacting families and working with them to manage discharges in a COVID safe way. We are being supported by the voluntary sector to achieve this.

Ahead of the weekend, health and care services are reminding people who need urgent but not emergency care to think 111 first.

Using the 111 service either online – www.111.nhs.uk or calling 111 will mean that if someone does need to go to a minor injury unit or the emergency department, the teams there will know they are coming and can manage the way people come into the departments.

“The capacity in our waiting rooms is much less due to social distancing guidance,” adds Tamsyn, “so by using your GP or the 111 first service people can help us to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

“We’ve done well in Cornwall to keep levels of the virus lower than many areas of the country. But we need people’s continued support by using the right services, following lockdown rules and maintaining hands, face, space.”

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trialled in South West 89.3% effective

29 January 2021 | By |

The NIHR-supported Novavax COVID-19 vaccine – which was trialled in Exeter and Cornwall – has demonstrated that the vaccine is 89.3% effective at preventing COVID-19. This data was identified from interim analysis of the Phase III study and included effectiveness against the new variants.

The Novavax study is the largest ever double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to be undertaken in the UK. It recruited over 15,000 participants in just over 2 months from 35 UK research sites, including the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre based at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. It was the first phase 3 study for the US-based biotechnology firm Novavax’s vaccine anywhere in the world.

The interim efficacy data and safety data will be submitted to all regulators across the world – including the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK – for independent scrutiny and product approval.

A significant proportion of participants taking part in the study were recruited through the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry. This is an online registry of over 390,000 people who have signed-up to be contacted about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies. More than 25 percent of enrolees in the trial were over the age of 65, and a large proportion of volunteers had underlying medical conditions which were generally representative of the population.

Volunteers were given two intramuscular injections of the vaccine (or placebo), 21 days apart.

The UK Vaccines Taskforce and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network have played vital roles in the rapid recruitment and enrolment of volunteers.

Professor Michael Gibbons, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula, said: “The South West Peninsula has contributed so much to this pivotal trial. The staff at the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre (based at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust) and at Royal Cornwall Hospital worked tirelessly to recruit more than 800 participants over a 2-month period. This was a great opportunity for the people of the South West who stepped up tremendously to support this study. We are very proud of the achievements of the teams at both Trusts and want to thank all the staff for their exceptional work and dedication.”

The study in Devon was conducted at the Nightingale Hospital Exeter site (prior to it receiving inpatients with COVID), and then at the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. Staff from the hospital and the universities of Exeter and Plymouth ran the trial.

Helen Quinn, Director of the Joint Research Office at RD&E, said: “We are so pleased to have been able to support the Novavax trial at the RD&E.

“We are very grateful to the volunteers who gave up their time to go in to this study and thank them for their support and commitment. Over 100 staff worked tirelessly to make it happen, administrators, lab technicians, practitioners, pharmacy, nurses, doctors, data managers, professional services, medical students, and project managers.

“Research is teamwork! We were able to do this trial at such a volume and pace in Exeter only because everybody played their part.”

Dr Ray Sheridan, Principal Investigator for the trial at RD&E, said: “This collaboration between the NHS, the NIHR and UK Universities – here in Devon, the University of Exeter Medical School and the University of Plymouth – working with Novavax has been a great success.

“This a great result both locally in Devon and Cornwall and for the UK, but most importantly globally. We aren’t really protected until we are all vaccinated, and this adds a further vaccine to the existing list of those known to be effective.

“The more options for manufacturing these the better, enabling the whole world to get access to effective vaccines sooner.

“We owe a huge ‘thank you’ to all the participants who volunteered and took part in the study. They should be really proud of their efforts.”

In Cornwall the study was conducted at the Knowledge Spa site on the hospital grounds.

Dr Duncan Browne, Consultant Endocrinologist at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Principal Investigator for the trial at the hospital, said:

“We are delighted to have been part of such a successful trial which should enable another COVID vaccine to be used in the UK in the coming months. I would like to thank all my colleagues at RCHT whose hard work helped make this possible along with the patients in Cornwall and the South West who have given up their time to take part in the study.”

The UK public can continue to support the national effort to speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for future vaccine studies by visiting www.nhs.uk/researchcontact.

The UK government has already secured 60 million doses of the Novavax NVX-CoV2373 vaccine. Provided it meets standards on safety, effectiveness and quality following publication of results, the vaccine will be manufactured using FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies’s facilities in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

Hospitals ask for support from local people as they respond to covid-19

7 January 2021 | By |

Now that our hospitals are seeing the impact of the rising rate of coronavirus infection over the last two weeks, health and care professionals in Cornwall are urging local people to support them by keeping to national restrictions and social distancing, to help reduce the virus spreading.

The number of patients in Cornwall’s acute hospitals with a covid positive diagnosis has more than doubled since the end of December and very sadly 18 people have died over the two weeks.

“It is clear that we are not going to hold onto the relatively low levels of infection we have experienced in Cornwall so far,” said RCHT’s Medical Director, Dr Allister Grant.

“We are starting to see more poorly people and are already changing the way we use parts of the hospital. Our local population can really help by doing everything they can to bring down the rate of infection; stay at home and avoid contact with people outside of your household or social bubble.”

The increase in patients with covid-19 will mean changes to routine appointments for some patients. Many are already benefiting from virtual outpatient clinics, either by telephone or online, reducing the number of people who need to come into the hospitals.

“We recognise making any change to planned appointments is really difficult for patients and it is not a decision we ever take lightly. However, we hope they will understand the need for our staff and our hospitals to focus on the care of those most seriously ill with covid or other emergency conditions,” adds Allister.

“Where we do need to postpone appointments or surgery our clinicians will be reviewing patients on a case by case basis and we will contact everyone individually. Otherwise people should continue to attend as planned, following the guidance in their appointment letter.”

The hospitals are on standby to respond to an increasing number of people with covid-19 needing their care. Kim O’Keeffe, Interim Director Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions for Royal Cornwall Hospitals and Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trusts, said: “We are acting as one nursing and care community, to work flexibly and keep patients safe. We’ve already had some great examples where staff have moved to other locations to increase community hospital and even care home capacity. We are also preparing staff to be redeployed into different roles to support frontline services, should the need arise.”

Doctors are keen to stress they are still here for people with urgent conditions not related to covid-19. Director of Cancer Services, Dr Bryson Pottinger said,

“We were all really concerned during the first lockdown that we weren’t seeing the usual number of referrals, not only cancer patients, but other urgent conditions. If anyone is concerned about symptoms, they shouldn’t put off making an appointment with their GP; we’ll still be here at the hospitals to provide diagnostic care and treatment.”

For those needing urgent but not emergency care, they should continue to call their GP, or outside of surgery hours contact the 111 services either online www.nhs.uk/111 or by calling 111. Anyone with symptoms of covid-19 should go online or call 119.

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