While the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 has fallen both nationally and in Greater Manchester, we know that the coronavirus has not disappeared. We all must continue to be careful, taking sensible precautions to reduce our risk of infection.
This is an extra worry for our patients because becoming ill might interrupt planned treatments. Also, some patients are particularly at risk of worse complications from COVID-19 infections because of their age, ethnicity, the type of cancer or cancer treatment, or because of other health conditions in addition to cancer. If this applies to you, your specialist will advise about particular precautions (shielding) when at home.
We have taken numerous steps to reduce the likelihood of anyone becoming infected with COVID-19 through visits to our sites, whether for tests, clinic appointments or treatments. These are also important for when patients need to stay on one of our wards.
We aim to keep The Christie (including Christie facilities at other sites) ‘COVID-19 protected’ sites so that cancer treatments can continue safely.
Here we explain these precautions and also set out important things for you to do.
- Entrance checks of all patients before they can enter The Christie: a team, led by a trained nurse, check everyone’s temperature at the door and asks about any symptoms, including if anyone at home is unwell.
- Our staff use separate entrances and exits and go through the same checks, every day.
- We are sending a text message with a link to a brief COVID-19 questionnaire to patients the day before a clinic appointment. All patients will be requested to complete this questionnaire whether you are coming to the hospital for your appointment or at home via telephone or video consultation. Your responses will be available on your electronic file for your clinical team to review.
- We are limiting the number of people on site at any time. Our specialists may arrange to speak to you over the telephone instead of a face-to-face clinic visit - though this will be arranged should you need further assessment.
- We have no permitted access for visitors, including routine escorts by family members or carers. However, this may be arranged by the clinical team for a patient where there are special circumstances. You may be aware that the Government has signalled that hospitals can relax restrictions but it is for the local organisation to make this judgement. At The Christie, it is important that we can both protect patients and make sure they can receive the treatment they need for their cancer. The restriction on visitors is to continue for now.
- Spacing out appointment slots for tests and treatment as much as we can.
- Avoiding waits in pharmacy through the home delivery of Christie medications.
- Increasing the space around treatment chairs, waiting room seats (and bringing people through to small departments only when the team is ready for you); fewer beds in some ward areas and the use of Perspex screens.
- When moving around the hospital, our staff will make sure they observe thorough handwashing and social distancing, and where this is not possible, will wear a mask for your protection and that of others.
- Regularly swab testing some patients and staff – we will be extending this.
- Rigorous and thorough cleaning procedures in place across wards and departments.
All of these measures keep the risk of infection at The Christie to a minimum.
We have very low rates of symptom-free staff and patients testing positive for COVID-19. Any staff or outpatients testing positive must remain at home. We have a small number of patients who need care at The Christie and have developed COVID-19 soon after admission: these patients are cared for with full Personal and Protective Equipment in carefully controlled ward areas.
You can play your part to keep risks as low as possible
Please co-operate with our screening teams at the hospital entrance on each visit and follow their instructions if they think you might have COVID-19 related symptoms. It is important to complete and submit the COVID-19 questionnaire that will be sent prior to clinical appointments.
Please be prepared to attend hospital departments by yourself if at all possible. In clinics, we can arrange for your loved ones to be part of the conversation with you via virtual technology such as Facetime, Skype or by telephone.
Please clean your hands with alcohol gel on entering or leaving The Christie site and comply with all additional requests to wash your hands or use face masks.
We may ask to swab your nose and throat as part of the preparation for some treatments or following admission to the hospital. This is an important part of infection control and we hope that you will co-operate with us for the benefit of all patients and staff.
Even if the test is negative it will still be important for you to follow the guidance on avoiding any non-essential contact, maintaining distance and washing your hands. Of course, you do need to tell your clinical team if you develop symptoms such as high temperature, continuous cough, or loss of taste or smell at any time.
If your swab test is positive or you develop COVID-19 symptoms we will advise you on what needs to happen. It is likely this will mean a postponement of your appointment or treatment until you have recovered: this is for your safety and that of others.
We may also invite you to provide a blood sample for an antibody test which may tell us if you have had exposure to the virus in the past few weeks.
Your clinical team is happy to explain more about the risk of COVID-19 infection if you require further information – this is important when you are making decisions about having treatment.