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Restart of planned care services

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) is now accepting routine GP referrals for patients who are waiting for a non-urgent appointment with a specialist.

The trust stopped accepting referrals at the end of March, other than for urgent or suspected cancer cases, to focus efforts and resources on treating COVID-19 patients.

With infection rates dropping and fewer patients now being treated for COVID-19, WHHT is working with Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to restart services in a way that ensures safety for patients and staff.

Hospital specialists and senior GPs are working together to review patient lists, reassess patients’ needs and agree the best course of action in every case – making sure that patients with the most urgent needs are prioritised.

During the pandemic the hospital trust has been carrying out patient consultations by video or phone wherever possible and this will continue as appointments open up. As well as being more convenient for patients, reducing visits to hospital sites is in everyone’s interests.

For some patients, the best course of treatment may be for their GP to manage their care with advice and guidance from a hospital specialist.  

WHHT is managing the risk of infection to make sure that patients needing to go into hospital for an appointment or treatment, and staff working in hospitals, will be as safe as possible.

Steps being taken include:

  • Holding appointments in a different area or building from those used for COVID-19 patients
  • Following required infection prevention measures including staff wearing personal protective equipment, cleaning rooms between appointments, patients using face coverings and hand sanitiser and social distancing in public areas.
  • Asking patients about COVID-19 symptoms

WHHT deputy chief executive Helen Brown says: “We are doing all we can to ensure that all west Hertfordshire residents have the care they need as soon as possible and are looking at each patient’s needs on a case by case basis. It will take some time to get all services up and running and patients with a non-urgent condition will inevitably have to wait considerably longer than usual.

“Due to the reorganisation of how services are delivered, some services may be delivered in different locations, and patients may be treated in a different place to where they were expecting.

“The safety of patients and staff is our top priority as we restart our planned care services across west Hertfordshire.”

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