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Coming in for an operation

As part of the Trust's preparation and response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had to make some changes to the operations and surgery we have been able to perform over the past three months.

Although the Trust was able to continue providing urgent and emergency surgery, as well as cancer treatment, outpatient appointments and non-urgent operations were cancelled in March to protect the NHS and create enough intensive care capacity for those with the most severe form of the virus.

We would like to apologise to every patient whose treatment has been on hold while we respond to the pandemic and we thank them sincerely for their support and understanding.

We know many of our patients have waited - and will continue to wait - far too long and we are sorry about that.

Our priority is patient safety and we are doing a huge amount of work to ensure that as we now being to restart services we are doing so in a way which is safe and which continues to follow all infection control and prevention measures to protect our patients, visitors and our workforce.

There is also new national recommendations which we are following as we begin to restart surgery which include the need for anyone coming in for elective (planned) surgery to self-isolate for 14 days prior to coming into hospital and we will also be testing all patients for COVID-19 prior to their surgery.

We are now able carrying out more planned operations (elective surgery) after making changes earlier in the year as part of our response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

These are procedures which patients know about in advance and that we will carefully plan to ensure that the risk to patients and our workforces is managed and minimised.  It will allow many patients who have been waiting for a procedure to get the treatment they need.

Our teams have been working hard for some weeks to plan to safely restart surgery during the pandemic, which includes segregating areas for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, carrying out regular deep cleaning of wards, operating theatres and equipement.

In line with national guidance, we are doing everything we can to make the risk of infection as low as possible in the hospital.

What to do if you are due to have an operation

Before coming to the hospital anyone having an operation will need to stay at home for 14 days and we will arrange for them to have a Covid-19 test as a precaution.  This self-isolation and testing is in line with national guidance set out to protect both patients and staff.   Patients who have planned surgery must download the FitNote ( in blue box) for self isolation prior to their hospital admission and present to their employers.

Further information about the steps to take to self-isolate is available online:

While waiting for surgery if any patient develops symptoms consistent with Covid-19 they should contact our teams on the number on their appointment letter.  Do not come to the hospital in person.  For more information on Covid-19 symptoms please visit here:

What to expect

You will be given clear instructions about where and when to attend for your operation and our hospitals will have clear signage to direct you safely within the buildings and to promote the practice of social distancing.

In line with national guidelines,  you will need to wear a face covering to come into one of our hospitals.  On admissions, clinical staff will discuss with patients changing this to the appropiate PPE.  Our teams will give clear instructions and provide everything you need.  Clinicians around the hospital will also be wearing PPE and face masks.

Visiting arrangements

All patients are allowed a one hour visit per day by a close friend of relative.  Relatives are also asked to telephone the hospital before visiting.

Visitors must also wear a face covering at all times ( unless advised otherwise by clinical staff).

We ask all visitors to maintain social distancing  wherever possible while in our hospitals.

Car parking is currently free at our hospitals.

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham