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Resuming hospital services (COVID-19)

Last updated: 21 July 2020 at 5.50pm

As a public safety measure, hospital appointments and procedures were restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). These services are now starting back gradually. Hospitals have developed new ways of working to continue to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

People coming into hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 will follow special advice. This advice depends on the hospital. In some cases, there may be separate entrances and treatment spaces. This is to keep everyone safe. Your healthcare team will give you more information.

Virtual clinics

Many hospitals are using virtual clinics to continue delivering care to patients. This means many people don't have to attend a healthcare facility in person. This reduces the risk of COVID-19.

Read more about virtual clinics.

Attending a hospital appointment

As services resume, your healthcare team will contact you about your appointment.

Your healthcare advice will depend on the type of hospital visit.

For example:

  • outpatient appointment - where you don't stay overnight
  • day-case procedure - where you may be given a bed, but don't stay overnight
  • planned hospital admission - where you'll stay for one or more nights

Your healthcare team will tell you what to expect when you arrive at the hospital.

They will give you information and will confirm:

  • your current health, including any symptoms of COVID-19
  • what to do if you have recently been told that you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • if you need to come to the hospital for any assessment before you have a procedure
  • if you need to cocoon for 2 weeks before your appointment - read about how to cocoon
  • if you need to have a test for COVID-19 before your appointment - the hospital will tell you where and when your test will be

If you test positive for COVID-19, your appointment will be rescheduled.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19

Contact your healthcare team if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 before your appointment.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Read more about symptoms of COVID-19.

Arriving at your appointment

If you use public transport to get to your appointment, follow the latest travel advice. This is for your safety.

You, and anyone with you, may be asked to wear a face covering as soon as you arrive at the hospital. These will be provided if you are told to wear one.

Use the available hand gel to clean your hands regularly, especially after removing a face covering.

If you arrive early

If you arrive early for your appointment, you may be asked to wait in your car or a specific area.

If you have travelled by public transport, you may be asked to wait in a specific area.

If you bring someone with you

They may be:

  • asked to wait in the car while you have your procedure
  • given a time to come back, if you are not being admitted

Going home

Your healthcare team will give you discharge advice to follow. This includes whether you need to have someone to stay with you overnight.

If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your GP. Tell them about your recent hospital appointments or procedures.

If you are contacted by the contact tracing team, tell them that you have been in hospital recently.

Related topics

Recovering after COVID-19

Get urgent medical help for non-COVID-19 symptoms

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

When to get medical help and hospital treatment for COVID-19

page last reviewed: 03/07/2020
next review due: 03/07/2023