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Attending the Emergency Departments (ED) at Bedfordshire Hospitals

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On average, 25 COVID positive patients attend our Emergency Departments (EDs) each day. All during a time when we are seeing record demand for emergency care, especially for this time of year.

As such, we are unable to relax any restrictions within these areas to limit the spread of the virus and maintain the health and safety of our staff and patients.

Those attending our EDs must:

  • Wear a face mask/covering, unless medically exempt
  • Observe social distancing measure in place
  • Sanitise/wash your hands frequently
  • Attend alone – exclusions apply to those:
    • Spending time with a patient in their final moments
    • Accompanying a vulnerable patient with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability or autism
    • Assisting with patients’ communication or providing interpretation
    • Accompanying a child or young person under the age of 18 (one person only)

Why do I have to wear my mask in the ED?

Despite the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July, Public Health England’s (PHE) infection prevention control guidance remains unchanged in health and care settings.

This means all guidance, including the use of face masks/coverings, remain in place at both our hospitals. This will allow the most vulnerable to safely attend our hospitals and seek medical help when they need it.

It is important for the public to continue to play their part by wearing a facemask when visiting our EDs to protect you, our other patients and staff.

If you are not wearing a facemask, our team may challenge you, unless you are medically exempt.

Why am I being sent to the Urgent GP/Treatment Centre when I have already seen or spoken to a GP?

Regardless as to whether you have seen or spoken to a GP, when you attend our EDs a nurse at the front desk will make a decision on where your treatment is best suited.This may be the Urgent GP/Treatment Centre.

The Urgent GP/Treatment centres help ease the pressure on hospitals by treating those with ailments and conditions that are not new or life threatening.

Our EDs are here to ensure emergency cases are seen with the urgency that is required for potentially lifesaving treatment.

Will I be seen in ED at the time NHS 111 has provided?

If you have been advised to go to the ED following a call with NHS 111 and they have given a suggested a time, this does not guarantee you will be seen at this time.

Bedfordshire Hospitals do not operate an appointment system, and you will still need to queue and book in. The time is given as guidance to support the flow of patients through our departments. However, as not all patients go through NHS 111, or their GP, there are influxes of patients at times.

Can I attend the ED if I’m a carer?

Whilst we are asking patients to attend on their own, we understand that some patients require assistance from a carer, and we are fully committed to supporting this.

One relative, household member of carer can accompany a patient in any of the following situations:

  • They are spending time with a patient in their final moments
  • They are accompanying a vulnerable patient with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability or autism
  • Assisting with patients’ communication or providing interpretation
  • Accompanying a child or young person (under the age of 18)

If the patient has tested positive for COVID-19:

If the patient has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not be allowed to accompany them. Please ensure that you are prepared to release their care to the ED team, with as many details as possible about their medical and care needs. Please be assured that staff will provide patients with as much support as necessary and will do all they can to accommodate requests concerning their care.

If the patient has not tested positive for COVID-19:

If you arrive with the patient and our waiting room is full, carers will be asked to wait outside, allowing space for patients only.

Please observe social distancing and hand hygiene when in the department, and refrain from moving around the hospital unnecessarily.

How long will it take for me to be seen in ED?

We cannot give guidance on how long it will take for you to be seen in the ED. The time you spend in ED will begin once you have seen the nurse at the front door, not when you are waiting in the queue. We see patients in order of clinical priority, and this can change during your time in the ED if other patients arrive.

Why do I have to wait outside at the L&D?

Due to a major redevelopment programme within the L&D’s Emergency Department, we have had to move the queue to outside the building to ensure social distancing can take place. The redevelopment programme will provide an expanded and refurbished ED with increased capacity and is due to complete towards the end of 2022. We apologise for any disruption in the meantime.