Guidance for all visitors

To protect our patients and help prevent the spread of infection, the Royal Free London's visitors’ policy is not changing following an update to national guidance no visitors will be allowed onto our wards until further notice; exceptions to this are outlined below.
 

We recognise this as a difficult time for all of our patients, their families and their carers and we thank you for your co-operation and helping us to keep our hospitals safe.  Please remember, if you, or someone who lives in the same house as you, experiences coronavirus symptoms – a new, continuous cough, high temperature, loss of taste or smell – please do not visit the hospital.  Self-isolate and visit NHS 111 online for further advice.  Symptom information and advice on what to do next is available here.

During this time we ask and encourage visitors to use other methods of keeping in touch with their friends and family members, including cards, telephone and video calls.[JW1] 

Advice for visitors of in-patients

Visitors are not allowed in our hospitals, except in exceptional circumstances where one visitor will be permitted to visit.
 
Please check with ward staff about visiting arrangements. They will explain if visiting is possible and the specific arrangements in place.
 
Exceptional circumstances may include:

  • a patient receiving end of life care.
  • one regular carer for a patient with additional needs, such as a patient with dementia or learning disabilities.
  • one parent or guardian for a child.
  • one birth partner accompanying a woman in labour .

If you are permitted to visit, you will need to wear a face mask during your visit. Some visitors may need to wear further personal protective equipment and this will be discussed on an individual basis. 

If you or someone you live with has COVID-19 (coronavirus) or any symptoms of it, you cannot visit the ward. If you are not sure, please speak to a member of staff.  Symptom information and advice on what to do next is available here.

Advice for out-patients

If you are visiting one of our hospitals or clinics for an appointment, please come alone.  Only bring someone to accompany you if absolutely necessary.  You will need to wear a face mask when visiting the hospital.

Advice for people using our emergency and urgent care services

Adults using our emergency departments or urgent care centre services are advised to come alone.  One adult only is permitted to accompany a child visiting our emergency or urgent care services. You will need to wear a face mask when visiting the hospital.

Attending our premises

We are also asking members of the public not to attend our premises unless they are attending an appointment or visiting the emergency departments or urgent care centre.

General advice for patients and visitors

Please remember that if you, or someone you live in the same house as, experiences coronavirus symptoms – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature and/or loss of smell or taste – please do not visit the hospital.  Self-isolate and visit NHS 111 online for further advice.

All patients and visitors to our hospitals will need to wear a face mask and are asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water as soon as they enter the hospital and when they leave. Frequent handwashing is effective at reducing the spread of infection.

Thank you for your co-operation and help in respecting these changes.


What to expect if you are allowed to visit a patient on a ward

Anyone who is showing symptoms of coronavirus (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell) should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild or intermittent, due to the risk they pose to others.

Before you arrive

The visit will need to be arranged in advance and you will be given instructions on where to go and who to ask for on your arrival. 

You must wear a facemask.

It is a good idea to write down any questions you have before arriving at the hospital as you may forget. You can also bring in cards / letters from loved ones.

You should drive, or be driven, to the hospital in order to minimise the risk of exposure to others, particularly if the household is self-isolating following contact with your loved one.

You will be allowed to bring a mobile phone with you but please bring as few belongings as possible to minimise the risk of infection.

You should remove outer clothing eg. coat or jacket and leave these with the person who has brought you in, if you can. Please then roll up your sleeves.

You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival at the hospital. Frequent handwashing is effective at reducing the spread of infection. There are also hand sanitising points around the hospital, please feel free to use them.

We practice social distancing where possible in the hospital and you will be asked to adhere to this during your visit although on the ward you will witness that this is not always possible when caring for patients.

You should consider going to the toilet and having a small drink before putting on personal protective equipment (PPE), as this helps to avoid the need to put on and take off PPE more than once during the visit.  PPE will usually consist of gloves, gown, mask and a visor.

Arriving on the ward

You will be informed about what to expect when you see your loved one.

You will be provided with appropriate PPE by staff and guided on where to clean your hands, how to put on the PPE and how to maintain social distancing between visitors, staff and other patients.

If you are not clear about the PPE please ask the staff supporting you.

Please ensure that you tell staff if you have any allergies to latex.

During your visit

Our staff will do what they can to protect you and support you during your visit and will advise you of any risks.

Please follow all instructions given by our staff, they will guide you to remove all PPE appropriately.

All visitors to our hospitals are asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water when they leave. Frequent handwashing is effective at reducing the spread of infection.

When you leave

As long as PPE is worn, you will not need to self-isolate after the visit, unless you have been to the intensive care unit, where the mask cannot be specifically fitted.  You will be advised of this by ward staff when arranging your visit.

You should stay at least 2 metres away from others as you leave the ward/hospital and avoid touching any surfaces.

Leave the ward/hospital as quickly as possible, using the most direct route, and go straight home.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Cover any coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.

Wash your hands again with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home.

Put your clothes on a hot wash as soon as you get home, and have a shower.

Follow stay at home guidance if you become unwell.