Visiting, appointments and support during the ongoing pandemic

We are still responding to Coronavirus in our hospitals so we need to take extra precautions to keep our patients and our staff safe.

Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the NHS website and on the government coronavirus (COVID-19) page. Please familiarise yourself with the symptoms and the latest advice. If you are worried that you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) please stay at home and follow the PHE guidance for staying at homeDo not attend A&E or your GP surgery.

Non-urgent advice: NHS 111 and emergency help

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Find out what to do if you think you need emergency medical care.

Hospital care

Our hospitals are open and our staff are both practised and skilled in treating patients with infectious diseases and we are confident in our procedures for dealing with this virus. The Trust has robust infection control measures in place and is following the most up to date national guidance and procedures at all times.

At our hospitals you may notice that staff are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), which looks different to their usual uniforms. This could include gloves, aprons, masks, visors, goggles and gowns, depending on which area of the hospital you are in.

This is a precautionary measure in place to keep patients and staff safe during the coronavirus outbreak and prevent the spread of infection. The protective equipment worn by our staff is in line with national NHS guidance.

Patients who test positive for the coronavirus are cared for away from the rest of the patient population.

Vaccination

University Hospitals Sussex supports COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine gives patients and staff the best protection against the virus.

As an organisation we are fully committed to the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Vaccination remains the best way of protecting ourselves, loved ones, colleagues and patients from Covid.  COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and give people the best protection against the virus.

At UHSussex we take our role as a provider of healthcare services very seriously, and treat hundreds of thousands of patients every year. COVID-19 vaccines protect our staff, and the communities we serve.

Members of the public can access their COVID-19 vaccine or booster by booking an appointment, or visiting one of the walk-in services across the county.

The majority of our colleagues have already had their Covid-19 vaccine and we are continuing to make vaccination easily accessible to everyone who wants it. This includes onsite vaccination clinics at all our main hospital sites. Extending vaccination to those yet to have their first, second or booster dose will help us prevent people needing to be hospitalised due to Covid, reducing pressure on our services. 

We remain incredibly grateful to our patients and the public for their support. We also want to express our huge gratitude to our staff, whose efforts throughout the pandemic have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Non-urgent advice: Yet to have your COVID-19 vaccine? Booster due?

Go to a walk-in vaccination clinic near you. Find your nearest walk-in centre.

Outpatient appointments

If you are offered an appointment, it’s important you attend. You must:

  • Wear a surgical mask at all times when you are at the hospital
  • Maintain a 1m social distance
  • Attend your appointment alone if you can. If you need someone to help you understand what is happening to you, you may bring one other person. If you are a parent bringing a child to hospital, you must only bring the child who needs care.  

Visiting patients – please read before you visit

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) we are continually reviewing arrangements for inpatient visiting in a very careful and COVID-secure way. From 27 April, 2022, patients staying in one of our hospitals can have two visitors each day.

This will no longer need to be the same visitors for the duration of a patient’s stay. Different people can come to visit the same patient on different days.

Visiting times will be between 2pm and 8pm each day.

All visitors must wear a fluid resistant surgical mask at all times. While masks are no longer required outside of hospitals, it is still a requirement in all healthcare settings. If you are exempt, you must provide evidence of your exemption.

We also ask that visitors maintain social distancing where possible. Our patients are more vulnerable to Covid and our priority is their safety and the safety of our staff.

Visitors will no longer be restricted to just an hour per visit and don’t need to pre-book their visits with most wards. Wards that are using a booking system will tell patients and their visitors how to book.

We ask that visitors listen to the requests of the ward teams. Ward managers or nurses may suggest that a visitor leave if the person they are visiting is becoming particularly tired. There may also be times when the ward is particularly busy with visitors and we need to work with you to reduce numbers. We will always try our best to let you spend as long as possible with your loved one.

Ward managers will continue to work with patients who are receiving end of life care and their loved ones and take a compassionate approach .

In our emergency departments, please come alone if you can or with one other person if necessary.

Carers with carers passports can still support those they care for.

On arrival to hospital:

  • You must enter and leave through the main hospital reception only.
  • You must wear a surgical mask at all times within the hospital (these can be supplied), unless medically exempt for which evidence should be provided
  • Please clean hands with the alcohol gel provided when entering and leaving the hospital and the ward
  • Ward staff will ensure that when you enter the ward, they will provide you with the appropriate PPE. If you are visiting a relative in isolation you will be advised by the staff on the additional PPE to be worn. You must stay at least two meters away from other people at all times.
  • Follow social distancing signage, keep left and maintain a safe distance from other people at all times
  • Dispose of your mask in a bin when you have left the hospital site
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home.
  • Adhere to quarantining Government guidance if you are returning from overseas.

Do not visit if:

  • You are feeling unwell, have a COVID positive test or showing any other infection including flu like respiratory illness or upset stomach/diarrhoea and/or symptoms of coronavirus (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste), even if these symptoms are mild or intermittent.
  • You are feeling unwell, even if you have tested negative for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated and have received your booster.
  • You are in a household that is self-isolating or you have been in contact with someone else who is suspected/confirmed to have coronavirus.
  • Your loved one is in a high risk COVID-19 area or in isolation due to track and trace. This can be individually assessed in exceptional circumstances.
  • You have returned from overseas and are required to quarantine.

Where a face-to-face visit is not practical then virtual visits will be supported and facilitated.

Visiting maternity

Antenatal outpatients: Partners are welcome to attend Consultant appointments. Please check with the department before bringing a partner or support person with you for routine antenatal (community midwife), Day Assessment Unit (DAU) or ultrasound appointments. 

No children are permitted at any appointments.

All scans (except presentation or epac scans): You may bring one support person.

MAU/Triage: One well support person when you come in to be assessed in early labour or if arranged with staff (if you are not in established labour, and all is well with you and your baby, then you and your birth support will go home together and we will continue to support you as needed. If you are in established labour, you will go to labour ward together and once there your 2 chosen adult birth supporters can remain with you for the whole of labour and birth).

Induction of Labour (the stage BEFORE you are in labour/are put on a synthetic oxytocin drip) or any other procedures: Attend on your own, unless otherwise agreed.

Labour Ward/Delivery Suite: Two chosen adult birth supporters can stay with you all through labour and birth and until you transfer to postnatal ward.

Caesarean birth: One chosen birth support person, if there are no complications (as was routine before covid-19).

Antenatal wards: Visiting times: 2pm – 8pm.
Two support persons, 6 hours a day (not changeable throughout the day). Please wear a mask at all times.

Postnatal ward: Visiting times: 2pm – 8pm
Two support persons, 6 hours a day (not changeable throughout the day). Please wear a mask at all times.

Please note:

Visiting times will be between 2pm and 8pm each day

  • The birth support people must be the same throughout. This means you cannot change birth supporters.
  • Your chosen support person must (unless exempt) wear a surgical face mask at all times. Wash hands regularly and use the hand gel. Remain with you during the visit and not make unnecessary trips in and out. Leave promptly when the visiting times end.
  • If the clinical areas become too busy, we may need to ask your support person to wait outside.
  • Unfortunately children are still not permitted to any appointments or hospital wards

Read further information on maternity services at Royal Sussex County and Princess Royal.

Visiting paediatric services

One parent/carer may be resident at all times with the child or young person admitted to the children’s wards.

Visiting on the wards will be restricted to two visitors. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accommodate visitors under the age of 16 years old.

In exceptional family situations: visiting arrangements can be discussed and alternative arrangements may be agreed with the nurse in charge.

Visiting neonatal units

Visiting on the units will be restricted to two visitors. This will no longer need to be the same visitors for the duration of a patient’s stay. Different people can come to visit the same patient on different days.  

The parent/s and visitors must remain with their baby at all times.

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accommodate visitors under the age of 16 years old unless they are the parent/carer.

Information for carers

Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist with the patient’s communication and/or to meet the patient’s health or social care needs.

Other people who are in attendance to support the needs of the patient, for example; a familiar carer/supporter/personal assistant, are not counted as an additional visitor.

Where possible please contact the ward or department in advance to discuss local considerations and make appropriate arrangements.

Patients may be accompanied by one close family contact or somebody important to them patient, to support with complex/difficult decision making.

Supporting visiting at end of life

When a patient is ill enough that they could die within the next few days, it can be difficult to say exactly when that will be. Sometimes a patient dies very suddenly or unexpectedly. Please know that if you are not there when your loved one dies, our staff will be with and comfort them at all times.

We will always act compassionately to balance the need for close family and others (including children) to spend precious time with the dying person to say goodbye, with the need to manage infection risk and maintain the safety of the visitors, staff and other patients.

For end of life patients up to 4 visitors per day is allowed. The ward/department will arrange this with you and tell you what precautions you will need to take.

Our healthcare chaplains are available to help if it is important for the dying person (or you and your family) to receive spiritual, emotional, or religious support during this time.

If the dying patient is a child, and the parent, guardian or carer has suspected coronavirus, we will do all we can to enable visiting. We may be able to move the child or young person to a separate area or provide the parent, guardian or carer with appropriate PPE. Our staff will ensure we keep parents/guardians updated if they cannot visit and will then allow another family member, or someone close to the child, to visit instead.

Keeping in touch

We continue to encourage patients and visitors to continue to use digital services such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp to stay in touch with loved ones during their hospital stay. 

Within the Trust, we have access to some iPads and mobile phones for use and we will continue to operate initiatives to enable loved ones to keep in touch remotely.

Messages for loved ones

Families and friends of our patients can now send their personal messages and letters to loved ones in hospital. Please make sure to include your relative’s name and the ward they are on and send your messages by email or post.

Worthing & St Richard’s Hospitals: email uhsussex.messagestolovedones@nhs.net or post letters to: Messages to Loved One, St Richard’s Hospital, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6SE. Messages will be printed and laminated for delivery to the wards Monday to Friday.

Brighton Hospitals and Princess Royal: email uhsussex.letterstolovedones@nhs.net or call 01273 664511 Monday to Friday 08:00 to 16:00 and speak to a member of the PALS team who will write your message down and deliver them to your loved one.

‘Thinking of you’ messages

The Trust is also keen to receive messages of support for patients who may not have any loved ones from anyone, regardless of where they live or if they are a member of an organisation. The Trust is inviting people to send their messages to Thinking of you by email or post.  

Worthing & St Richard’s Hospitals: email uhsussex.messagestolovedones@nhs.net, or post letters to: Messages to Loved One, St Richard’s Hospital, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6SE. Messages will be printed and laminated for delivery to the wards Monday to Friday.

Create a playlist of personal voice messages for an isolated loved one 

The Trust is offering a service for family and friends of patients in ITU at Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital and the Royal Sussex County in Brighton, called ‘WithYou’.  This is a brand-new audio service, supporting isolated patients by collecting friends and family’s voice messages and music tracks on a playlistthat enables a key contact to collect voice messages and songs, for patients to hear at their bedside. Families can easily set up an online account and start collecting music and voice message contributions from friends, which are then sent directly onto the ward. Please contact the Ward Sister on ITU for details of how to access this service. 

Supporting patient recovery