How we’re keeping you safe

UPDATE, 9 May 2023: click here to read an update on wearing masks at our sites.

To help keep you safe we have measures in place at all of our hospitals and community sites - whether you are visiting or having an operation/procedure at the Royal Free London.

The information below was last updated December 2022. Thank you for helping us to keep you safe. 


When you visit...

To help reduce hospital visits, patients may be asked to have their appointment over the phone or by video. However, in some cases we may ask to see you in person. 

What we need you to do:

  • When you visit us, please wear your own face covering or surgical mask which covers your nose and mouth. If you are not wearing one, we will give you a mask. The face covering or mask must be worn at all times in clinical areas, which refers to a department, a ward, a waiting area, or clinic. You are no longer required to wear a mask in public and non-clinical areas of our hospitals or community sites.
  • Use hand sanitiser or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap as soon as you arrive. Hand sanitiser is available at all of our entrances and across buildings so that you can clean your hands more frequently.
  • Let us know if you have any questions about your appointment when you arrive. Our reception desks are open and we will be happy to help.
  • If you wish, you may want to bring someone with you to accompany you to your appointment. They will also be asked to wear a mask or face covering in clinical areas.

What we are doing:

  • Everyone will be wearing a mask during your appointment and some staff may be wearing extra protective personal equipment such as a visor.
  • We are cleaning all areas more often and with extra care. This includes clinic rooms, public areas such as washrooms and frequently touched surfaces which include check-in screens, hand rails, doors handles and lift buttons. 

Our top priority is ensuring you receive the very best care in a safe way.

Having an operation or procedure...

At the Royal Free London, we are taking every measure to make sure it is safe for you to come in for your operation or procedure.

We’re regularly cleaning every area of our hospitals – including our theatres, ward areas and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and lift buttons.

You’ll also see patients and staff wearing a face mask or face covering at all times in clinical areas, and we’ve increase hand sanitising facilities throughout our buildings.

We’re following the latest national guidelines and our teams are working round the clock to make sure your visit is worry-free.

Before your operation or procedure

  • You will be advised by your healthcare team to isolate as required before your procedure. This may differ between patients and procedures.
  • Before your operation or procedure, we will call you to ask you if you or any member of your household has symptoms of COVID-19 – staff will ask you a series of questions and this will help us determine if your operation can go ahead.
  • We’ll also ask you to visit a testing centre at the Royal Free Hospital to have a coronavirus swab test. This will be around 72 hours (3 days) before your operation. If you cannot travel, testing at your home may be organised. We’ll contact you with your results and let you know if your operation can go ahead.
  • Remember, if you or someone you live with develops a high temperature, a new, persistent cough or loses their sense of smell or taste, you must stay at home and let us know.

Your stay in hospital

  • Please wear a face covering which covers your nose and mouth during your journey, if applicable, and on arrival at the hospital. Please wash or sanitise your hands on arrival.
  • We will check your temperature and ask you some questions again before you are admitted onto the ward. We’ll also be doing the same checks on all other patients.
  • The team caring for you will introduce themselves to you. They will be wearing different types of personal protective equipment – this may include a face mask, gloves, an apron and a visor. Please don’t be alarmed by this as this is to help keep both you and your healthcare team safe.
  • If you have any difficulties in understanding or hearing something, please let us know so we can communicate with you in a different way.
  • Patients on most of our wards are now able to receive visitors. Please see our visiting guidance page for more information. If visits are not possible, then you can use our free NHS WiFi to keep in touch with family and friends by video or phone call. If you don’t have a suitable device, let us know and we will help you to make calls. 

After your operation

  • Where suitable, we’ll offer you a phone or video follow-up appointment if you need one.
  • Our top priority is ensuring you receive the very best care in a safe way. If you have any further questions about your operation or how to prepare for it, please don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare team.