Coronavirus: rheumatology services update
Please read our frequently asked questions before contacting the department.
Due to increased demand on the hospital due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we are having to make changes to the way we deliver our service.
Most routine rheumatology appointments are going ahead. The time and date of your appointment may change, but should be within the same week. You will not be required to come to the hospital for these appointments, but you will be offered a choice of telephone or video consultations. You will continue to receive a reminder text message from the hospital if you have opted into the notification service. If, on discussion with your health professional, a face-to-face appointment is required, this will be arranged for you.
Please do not attend the hospital unless you have been advised to do so by a member of the rheumatology team. You should contact us if your condition is flaring or you have an immediate need for advice or treatment.
For all appointment queries, including blood tests, please telephone 020 7188 5900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice
Patients with chronic inflammatory disease are at greater risk. Please check the list of immunosuppressive medications.
If you are taking any of these you may be considered a high risk patient. Please assess your level of risk. If you consider yourself as high risk you must follow the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus and please read the high risk letter from NHS England (Word 49Kb). You can also register to get help whilst you are shielding at home.
Hydroxychloroquine has been used for many decades to treat lupus and other autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is a prescription medication and should only be taken by patients to treat their condition under medical supervision. Hydroxychloroquine remains one of the safest medications in rheumatology when it is taken in the low doses prescribed to treat lupus – usually 200mg to 400mg daily.
Hydroxychloroquine is an immunomodulant, not an immunosuppressant drug, and its use does not increase the risk of infection nor does it make an infection worse. Hydroxychloroquine can be continued if an infection is confirmed.
There is no current evidence that taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine prevents or treats coronavirus infection. If you are taking hydroxychloroquine, please continue your usual dose. Do not increase your dose. Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine overdosage may result in heart problems and/or death.
There have been reports of shortages of hydroxychloroquine due to its use in the COVID-19 trials. These shortages have been resolved and there should be sufficient supplies for patients. It is important not to run out of hydroxychloroquine since this may risk a lupus flare.
If you develop symptoms (dry cough, fever, loss of smell, sore muscles or shortness of breath), please follow the guidelines on the NHS 111 website and stop medication temporarily – with the exception of steroids and hydroxychloroquine – until you have recovered. This advice is the same as for any infections.
You can see a list of useful links and frequently asked questions about coronavirus and inflammatory disease.
Nurse telephone appointment booking service
If you're an existing patient, please book a telephone appointment to receive advice or help with:
- a flare of your condition
- health advice relating to your condition
- medicine advice, including side effects.
Alternatively, please email email@example.com. If you do not have access to email please call the telephone helpline on 0207 188 5896 and leave a message. Your call will be handled by the most appropriate member of the team.
This service is only available for patients who have already attended clinic. It is not suitable for new patients.