Background to pandemic

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. On 12 January 2020 it was announced that a ‘novel coronavirus’ had been identified in samples obtained from cases and that initial analysis suggested that this was the cause of the outbreak. Public Health England (PHE) is using the name Coronavirus (COVID-19). On Thursday 12 March, the World Health Organisation declared declared Coronavirus as a pandemic. A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

MCH and Coronavirus. What has changed?

We will continue to support our local hospital to free up beds; as well as continuing to provide care in the community to our most vulnerable patients. We are working with local hospitals, GPs, social care partners, voluntary organisations and others in order to coordinate this effort across Kent and Medway.

Please see below for any specific changes to services. If you’re unsure about changes to the service you require, please contact our Care Coordination Centre on 0300 123 3444 and choose the correct option for the service you’re querying.

With this in mind, (and taking into account that our workforce is considerably reduced as a result of the pandemic) we have grouped our services into the following areas:

  • Care Coordination Centre – providing a single point of contact for advice, information, signposting, clinical prioritisation and scheduling of appointments and visits.
  • Services that aim to stop people from being admitted to hospital. These include MedOCC at Medway Maritime Hospital and our newly-formed (and purpose-designed) Urgent Response Service
  • Services that support people to leave hospital safely e.g. MICES equipment store, Integrated Discharge Service, and Discharge to Assess team
  • Inpatient units (Darland House, Wisdom Hospice, and Britannia and Endeavour units at Amherst Court) continue to operate as usual. However, we are working closely with our local hospital and care homes to free up hospital beds wherever we can, working together
  • Community Nursing and therapy services that provide care, treatment and support to adults, children and carers in their own homes (or in a clinic setting if not housebound, vulnerable, shielded, or in isolation). These include phlebotomy, podiatry, paediatric medication reviews, wound clinics, and emergency dental, as examples.

Our community teams are also supporting patients, carers and families, wherever possible, to self-care, to manage elements of their own conditions (e.g. insulin) and to encourage independence.

Please be assured that our staff will have the right equipment and protection, based on national guidance, to provide the safest and best care to you and your loved ones. Please stay home and save lives, and help us to help you.

Changes to services and clinics

Changes to the wound clinic service
The wound clinic are currently providing clinics from Balmoral, Rainham and Keystone. Clinics at Rochester and Lordswood have been suspended. Please call us on 0300 123 3444 to arrange your appointment.

Changes to phlebotomy service 
The Phlebotomy clinic are no longer providing a walk in blood test service. All blood tests will need to be booked by telephoning 01634 471098 to arrange your appointment. Please see our poster for open clinics.

Changes to anticoagulation service 
Patients within the community anticoagulation service are no longer able to attend as a walk-in patient. All anticoagulation clinics (at Balmoral Gardens, Walter Brice Centre and Rochester Healthy Living Centre) will now be by booked appointment times only.  

Please do not attend any clinics as a walk-in patient if you have not been allocated a clinic appointment time.

We will contact you with an appointment if you are due to be seen in the coming weeks. Please call us on 0300 123 3444 if you require further information.

Guidance on face coverings when visiting our locations

Visitors and patients visiting any MCH location for appointments or inpatient care, will need to wear face coverings to further reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other patients and staff. 

Face coverings can be made of cloth and be reusable in line with government guidance on the use of face coverings for public transport. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.

While we have a stock of masks to provide to those who do not have their own, we do expect all patients to follow national guidance and wear a face covering to MCH appointments. With that in mind, if you have your own face covering which meets national guidance, please wear it.

Wearing a face covering may be difficult for some people due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival. Please make it clear that this will be an issue for you when you book your appointment, or in advance of your appointment via our Care Coordination Centre on 0300 123 3444.

We understand that the use of face masks by clinical staff can be challenging for patients who are deaf or hearing impaired. Where possible, clear masks will be used by clinical staff to communicate with these patients, or alternative communication techniques employed such as the use of visual aids, for example, writing things down, speech to text apps or sign language.

We believe that these measures for staff and patients will help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 around our communities. We have also introduced measures to support social distancing within our locations, such as requesting you to wait in your vehicle until your appointment time wherever you can, dedicated entrance and exit points, and clearly signed, spaced seating. Please help us to help you stay safe, and follow national guidance and MCH instructions regarding your appointment.

Visiting your loved ones

(As at 7 July 2020) We have reviewed our visiting arrangements, based on updated national guidance, and as a result created this leaflet to explain what's changed.

Due to differences in location, staffing or logistical set ups at the different MCH inpatient units, there may be a slight variation to agreed visiting times i.e. time of day or day itself and the total number of visitors on the unit at any one time. Additionally, frequency of visiting will be locally decided. Visiting arrangements will be discussed with patients on admission wherever possible and appropriate.

Visiting arrangements will remain under constant review in line with national and local guidelines. 

What can you do?

Please ensure that from now, you are following this guidance:

  • If you develop a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you should self-isolate for seven days. Do not contact 111 unless your symptoms get worse. 

The NHS has created an online symptom and advice checker here

Any change to public health advice will be published here (on the NHS website)

Handwashing remains the best way to stay healthy. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, using liquid soap and warm water:

  • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • before leaving home
  • on arrival at school/workplace
  • after travelling on public transport
  • after using the toilet
  • after breaks and sporting activities
  • before food preparation
  • before eating any food, including snacks
  • before leaving school/workplace.

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak. Please see the list of useful links on the right where you can find the latest official information and advice.