The infectious diseases service at the Royal Free Hospital looks after adult patients (16 years or older) with any type of infection or suspected infection.
In addition to inpatient services, there is an acute ambulatory assessment service and outpatient infection clinics.
The team consists of a diverse group of consultants alongside specialist registrars trained in infectious diseases and other doctors in training. There is also an inpatient ward staffed by dedicated nurses trained in the care of patients with infectious diseases.
The unit has considerable experience in caring for patients with:
- infections acquired in the UK
- illnesses acquired overseas
- viral infections
- bacterial infections
- tuberculosis and non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections
- viral hepatitis
- fevers of unknown origin (PUO)
In addition, the unit works closely with other departments across the Royal Free Trust to provide a comprehensive infection service to all patients with infections related to other medical and surgical conditions. At Royal Free Hospital we run the UK's principal high-level isolation unit (HLIU) for the treatment of adult patients with Contact High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCIDs), as well as an Airborne HCID Treatment Centre.
Referrals are accepted from GPs by letter/email or the NHS e-Referrals system. We also accept referrals from other hospitals or medical professionals by letter or telephone. Medical professionals may contact the on call infectious diseases team via telephone on 020 7794 0500 (please ask the switchboard to put you through) or if a patient requires urgent assessment.
Specialist services for tuberculosis, NTM, hepatitis B and C, HIV, and chronic fatigue are managed through other teams and should not be directed to us through NHS e-Referrals. See below.
- TB and NTM referrals should be sent to Respiratory Medicine
- Viral hepatitis referrals should be sent to Hepatology
- Referrals for HIV care should go directly to the Ian Charleson Centre (Royal Free site)
- Chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia referrals should be sent to the Fatigue Service.
The Royal Free Hospital has a high level isolation unit (HLIU) which is used for the treatment of contact high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) such as Ebola virus disease.
The HLIU is run by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and laboratory staff from the Royal Free London infectious diseases service. It was set up at the Royal Free Hospital in 2008. The team has treated adult patients with Lassa fever, Ebola virus disease, and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever.
Access to the unit is restricted to the team of specially trained medical staff. The HLIU is designed to ensure our medical staff can safely treat a patient with a contact HCID. A specially designed tent with controlled ventilation is set up around the patient’s bed and allows the staff to provide clinical care while containing the infection.
Facilities in place include a specific entrance for the patient, autoclaves that decontaminate waste, and a dedicated laboratory for carrying out tests. This helps to ensure the patient can be treated safely and securely. All the air leaving the unit is cleaned so there is no risk to anyone in or outside the hospital
The high level isolation unit is always fully prepared to admit a patient with a contact HCID at short notice.
The Royal Free HLIU is the Lead Contact HCID Treatment Centre for the UK. Members of the team also work nationally and internationally on preventing and treating contact HCIDs, including teaching, research and innovation, public health work, and advisory committee work. Specialist pharmacists also help the team access and administer the latest treatments.
The Royal Free Hospital’s infectious diseases department is an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID) centre. It treats patients with rare infections that can spread naturally via exposure to infectious respiratory droplets and aerosols, such as avian influenza, pneumonic plague, clade I mpox, and middle east respiratory syndrome.
The centre is part of NHS England’s airborne HCID network. The paediatric airborne HCID service is provided through a partnership with paediatric infectious disease specialists at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Adult patients receive care in respiratory isolation rooms on the infectious diseases ward at the Royal Free Hospital or if they are critically ill, in the respiratory isolation rooms on the intensive care unit . Care is provided by specialist doctors and nurses who follow enhanced infection prevention and control measures to ensure that infections are contained.
The air leaving each isolation room is cleaned so there is no risk to anyone in or outside the hospital. Specialist pharmacists access and administer the latest treatments and staff work make patients as comfortable as possible while they are having to isolate.
The unit is always prepared to admit one or more adult patients with an airborne HCID at short notice. Members of the HCID multidisciplinary team participate in teaching, clinical research, public health, and advisory committee work on airborne HCIDs, both nationally and internationally.