For up to date information on Coronavirus, please see:
Both sites give information on protecting yourself, recognising the symptoms, how to be tested and what to do if you are infected. There are also links to available support.
Coronavirus advice for patients going to hospital
Please do not attend an appointment if you have symptoms of coronavirus. If you are worried you may have symptoms use the NHS 111 Online coronavirus service for further advice.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
A high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
All visitors and outpatients must wear face coverings at all times.
Advice on how to make your own face covering at home can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Ensure you are washing your hands or using hand sanitiser before and after touching your face cover. You should avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Services local to me
Our local hospital providers have created guidance for patients visiting their sites.
Click on the hospital below to read their patient information:
When travelling to hospital we advise you to follow the national guidance which can be found here.
Frequently asked questions
Who is in the shielded (clinically extremely vulnerable) group?
People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:
- have had an organ transplant
- are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
- are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
- are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
- have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
- have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
- have been told by a doctor they you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
- have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids)
- have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
This clinically extremely vulnerable group should practise shielding. For full details, please see:
- GOV.UK: Coronavirus guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable
- NHS: People at higher risk from coronavirus
- Severe asthma is defined on the Asthma UK website
- Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is defined on the British Lung Foundation website
Some charities have worked with the NHS to produce advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) and certain health conditions:
- Alzheimer's disease and Dementia
- Arthritis and other joint or muscle conditions
- Asthma, COPD and other lung conditions
- Cancer: Cancer Research UK or Macmillan
- Cystic fibrosis
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Mental health
- Motor neurone disease
- Sickle cell
Other useful websites with advice on who should be shielded include:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Crohn's and Colitis UK
- Rheumatological disease: Versus Arthritis
- Dermatology: British Association of Dermatologists (BAD)
- Multiple Sclerosis: MS Society
People in this group should have been contacted to tell them they are clinically extremely vulnerable. If you’re still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
Who is at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)?
People at moderate risk from coronavirus include people who:
- are 70 or older
- are pregnant
- have a lung condition that's not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
- have heart disease (such as heart failure)
- have diabetes
- have chronic kidney disease
- have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
- have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)
- have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections
- are taking medicine that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
- are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)
- You may also have read about the increased risk for people of Black Asian or Minority Ethnicity. This is clearly a significant concern and is being looked into urgently.
If you're at moderate risk from coronavirus, it's very important you follow the advice on social distancing.
For further advice, please click here
What about children?
Children seem to be less affected both in terms of numbers and in severity of illness.
However, it is very important to seek urgent medical help if you feel your child is very unwell. For information on what to do if your child seems very unwell, please click here
There has been a small number of case reports from around the world of a serious condition known as Poly Inflammatory Multi System (PIMS) disease which is similar to Kawasaki disease but seems to be affecting mainly older children. It is rarely fatal. It is not yet known if this is due to coronavirus infection but the increase in numbers seen during the pandemic makes a link seem likely. For further information on Kawasaki disease, please click here
How will coronavirus affect my healthcare?
It is very important that people continue to be able to access healthcare during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you think you may have coronavirus infection you should follow the guidance on the NHS website
If your symptoms get worse, you should use the 111 online service
For all other medical problems, you should contact your GP surgery, or use 111 out of hours. It is particularly important that you continue to attend for routine check-ups of chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, and try to keep to a healthy lifestyle.
You can use the NHS app to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions
Most practices in Devon now use the eConsult online platform, which allows patients to access services from their smartphone, tablet or computer.
Please be aware that calls to the surgery may take a little longer than usual as it’s important to find out if you have any coronavirus (Covid 19) symptoms or contact with an affected person and to update your contact details. You may also be asked if you consent to the use of SMS messaging services or video. It is very helpful if you can give the reception team an idea of the type of problem or query you have as this will help the clinician to prioritise urgent calls and also to decide which method of communication is appropriate.
If the clinician decides you need to be seen face to face, you will be invited to attend and will usually need to identify yourself at the entrance before being allowed to enter the premises. Many practices have divided their surgeries into “hot” (possible or confirmed Covid) and “cold” (non-Covid) areas with separate entrances, and some localities have an entirely separate building for seeing possible Covid cases even if they need to be seen for another condition. Clinicians will be wearing standard PPE (mask, apron, gloves) for all patients, but may additionally be wearing a gown and visor for suspected or confirmed Covid patients. Obviously the purpose of all this is to protect staff and patients alike.
If you have a cough and need to see a clinician face-to-face, you may be asked to wear a face mask. Instructions on making your own face mask can be found here
If you need to attend hospital, please be assured all hospitals have dedicated “hot” (Covid suspected or confirmed) and “cold” (non-Covid) areas to minimise the risk of virus transmission.
How will coronavirus affect my referral?
Referrals from primary care continue to be processed through Devon Referral Support Service (DRSS). Please be aware that your referral will be sent to your local hospital, unless you specifically request another hospital.
Hospital clinicians will read and prioritise all incoming referrals. You may be contacted to find out more about your condition, so it is helpful if you can let your GP know prior to referral if you would be happy to be contacted by phone or video via a smartphone, tablet or home computer. This may then result in advice to yourself or your GP, or you may require a face to face appointment. For some specialties there is likely to be a significant wait for a face to face appointment. Many clinical problems can be managed by your GP with guidance from a specialist, and GPs are making increasing use of “Advice and Guidance” where a hospital specialist will write back to the GP with advice, usually quite quickly.
What is available to help me manage my mental health?
The Gov.uk site has some helpful advice and information
The mental health charity Mind is also a good resource
You could also check out the information on MyHealth. This gives self-help advice and details of local support agencies. You can self-refer to Talkworks in Devon, or Plymouth Options in the Plymouth area.
Please do talk to your GP if you are struggling with your mental health. They can listen, signpost to local sources of support, prescribe if necessary, or refer you to a Psychiatrist if needed. Please bear in mind that it may not be possible to offer a face to face consultation, and that a telephone call or video consultation may be just as useful.
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