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Routine hospital operations resume at Royal London with extra Covid-19 safety measures brought in

PUBLISHED: 15:33 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 07 September 2020

Operating theatre at Royal London now taking on routine ops after Covid emergency. Picture: Barts Heath

Operating theatre at Royal London now taking on routine ops after Covid emergency. Picture: Barts Heath

Barts

Hospital operations which had to be put on hold at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic have now restarted at the Royal London beginning with the most urgent.

Patients can now return to Royal London for routine medical care with new Covid-19 safety measures in place. Picture: Mike BrookePatients can now return to Royal London for routine medical care with new Covid-19 safety measures in place. Picture: Mike Brooke

Safety measures brought in to cope with the pandemic emergency by Barts Health NHS Trust continue, keeping Covid and other patients strictly separate while the virus remains a threat.

Any Covid patient is being treated in the isolation ward way up on the 15th floor with only one patient left who is still critical, well away from the general areas.

All staff, patients and visitors to the hospital have to wear face coverings, use sanitise dispensers, wash hands frequently and keep a safe social distance to maintain infection control.

Patients coming in for surgery are being advised to follow infection control steps at home before turning up including washing hands more often. Some patients are also being required to self-isolate first, for more complex operations.

Leila Skye, taken to A&E... Leila Skye, taken to A&E... "I was tested for Covid which was negative and was taken to a 'covid free' ward where all the staff were wearing face masks." Picture: Skye family

All A&E waiting rooms have restricted numbers to make sure departments don’t get over-crowded. Waiting and treatment areas are also separated for those who have Covid symptoms.

Leila Skye, 71, was taken to A&E with severe pain and lost of use in her right leg and spent a week in hospital.

“I was tested for Covid-19 when I arrived,” she recalls. “It was negative and I was taken to a ‘covid free’ ward where all the staff were wearing face masks. I felt reassured from the moment I got in the ambulance to being discharged.”

Andrew O’Doherty, a 56-year-old retired GP, had open heart surgery at St Bartholemew’s after a routine scan picked up a metastatic tumour in his heart.

Royal London Hospital returns to routine... but with any Covid treatment isolated from general areas. Picture: Mike BrookeRoyal London Hospital returns to routine... but with any Covid treatment isolated from general areas. Picture: Mike Brooke

He said: “I was admitted 48 hours before my operation to allow for a Covid-19 swab. My details were taken when I arrived by a receptionist behind a perspex screen wearing a mask and gloves and all staff were wearing PPE to reduce possible spread of Covid-19.”

A few face-to-face appointments have now restarted, after nearly 70,000 outpatient appointments were made by video or telephone during the pandemic. Most consultations continue online.

The Rev Nana Banyin, at 65, had a video consultation with colorectal consultant Mohamed Thaha at the Royal London on July 16.

Nana said: “I’m keen to carry on using virtual appointments even after the pandemic. You’re more relaxed because you’re at home in a familiar environment and it means you can take your time and chat to your doctor.”

Covid isolation ward on 15th floor of Royal London... now just one patient left in intensive care. Picture: Barts HealthCovid isolation ward on 15th floor of Royal London... now just one patient left in intensive care. Picture: Barts Health

Some surgery has even been switched to private hospitals, such as the London Independent at Stepney Green which helped out at the height of the emergency, using Barts Health clinicians paid for by the NHS.

Maternity services have continued throughout the pandemic, with around 3,500 babies born at Barts Health trust hospitals such as the Royal London, the Barkantine birthing centre in Millwall and the Newham.

The first port of call for treatment for anyone feeling unwell is contacting their GP or calling NHS 111, Barts Health trust stresses, unless it is a life-changing emergency when they need to dial 999 for an ambulance or go directly to the nearest hospital A&E department.


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