We understand that you may be worried about coming in to hospital during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly if you or someone you live with may be vulnerable. We are taking many precautions and have made significant changes to our services to make sure you and our staff are safe during your appointment.
If you do have a face-to-face appointment, it’s important you attend. You will be offered a face-to-face appointment where it is safe to do so and a specialist doctor has agreed that it is best. Not attending may delay your diagnosis or treatment, and put your health at risk. We have made a number of changes to keep you safe in our hospitals and community sites.
Please do watch our Keeping you safe video about what to expect when you come in to our hospitals
Your appointment may be a telephone consultation or a video appointment.
Before your appointment
Once your outpatient appointment has been booked with us you should receive a letter with an appointment date and details about where to go when you arrive at the hospital. If you are uncertain about anything, please telephone the contact number on your letter. Don't forget to:
- check the appointment details and contact us if you can't make it – if you miss your appointment and don't let us know, you may be discharged back to your GP
- call 020 7188 8815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need an interpreter or signer and one wasn't booked when you arranged your appointment
- make sure we have your mobile number so we can text you reminders
- call the number on your letter if you have any special needs, such as washing or praying facilities
- call us if you develop diarrhoea and vomiting three days before your appointment
- read our tips about preparing for your outpatient appointment.
What to do if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
Please do not visit the hospital if you or someone you live with has any coronavirus symptoms. However, if you are experiencing symptoms but you still need to attend your appointment, please contact us. Please do not travel until you have contacted us.
If you need to change your appointment or check we have the right contact details for you can,
Arriving at your appointment
We understand coming to hospital or a community clinic may be worrying so we do our best to make it as easy and comfortable as possible. Here's what to expect when you arrive.
- We are limiting the number of people visiting the hospital, so you will be asked to show proof of your appointment when you arrive at the entrance. Please remember to bring along your appointment letter or your text confirmation.
- We are asking people to attend most appointments alone, at the moment, to reduce the number of people in the hospital to enable us to stay safe and keep apart. If you need someone to accompany you please contact us.
- All staff and visitors entering and leaving the hospital need to sanitise their hands with hand gel which is provided by the hospital.
- All adult staff and visitors should follow the government guidelines about face masks (unless exempt) and social distancing.
How to find and book in to your appointment
- Please go to the location written on your appointment letter. If you are not sure where to go, ask at the main reception.
- The clinic receptionist will book you in and explain what will happen next. Please let the receptionist know if any of your personal details have changed, like your address.
- To help us meet your needs we will ask you questions about your ethnic background. You do not have to answer these if you don't want to.
- We do our best not to keep you waiting, although delays sometimes happen. We'll tell you if there is likely to be a delay.
Keeping you safe during your appointment
- When you arrive at your outpatient department you may be asked to complete a questionnaire or answer questions to check that you do not have symptoms.
- In order to comply with social distancing requirements, we are staggering our appointment times and significantly reducing our waiting space. Please try not to arrive at the department more than 10 minutes before your appointment time. This gives us time to thoroughly clean the rooms and equipment between patients. If you arrive early, you may be asked to wait outside the hospital building.
- We are also changing where and how we offer blood tests and observations. Please follow the guidance of the clinician when you arrive, as this may be different to the process you have followed in the past.
- When you arrive at the department, you may be met by staff who are wearing recommended personal protection equipment (PPE), this may be a mask, apron or visor.
- There are hand washing facilities and hand gel available, which we ask all visitors to use before and after their appointment.
We understand that these changes will be difficult for some and we thank you for your patience and support during this time. Please understand that these measures are to make sure we can give care to those who need it most, while keeping our patients, their families and our staff safe.
Your medical team
Usually, you will be seen by a consultant (senior doctor) or a member of their medical team. However, you may be seen by other staff, such as a nurse consultant, a nurse specialist, a midwife or a therapist.
All staff wear an identity badge with their name and job title on it, so you know who they are. They also wear different coloured uniforms to help you recognise them more easily.
If you are unhappy about any aspect of your care, speak to someone in charge of the clinic, who will try to sort things out for you there and then.
Preparing for your appointment
Planning your journey
Remember to check which hospital or community site you're due at before setting out.
Use public transport where possible as both hospitals are located in the congestion charging zone of London and parking is very limited. See our travel pages for more information.
Give yourself plenty of time. Our hospitals are big and it can take a while to get to where you're supposed to be. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to find your way to your appointment.
What to bring with you
Read your appointment letter very carefully as it may ask you to bring certain items with you, or ask you to visit another department for tests before your clinic appointment. Please remember to bring:
- your appointment letter, and any other information that we may have sent to you
- your NHS number to help us match you to your health records. For more information on NHS numbers and how you can find out yours visit the NHS website
- medicines or inhalers that you are taking at the moment, including medicines you have brought yourself and any alternative medicines
- a small amount of money in case you need to buy a drink or snack
- information about any changes in your personal details, for example, if you have a new address or a new GP
- proof of entitlement to free prescriptions, if appropriate
- proof of entitlement to free travel or help with travel, if appropriate
- any samples requested by your doctor or nurse.
To help you get the most of out of your appointment, you could take a list of questions with you.
Allow time for your visit
We will try to see you at the time given on your appointment letter or card. However, we can't guarantee how long your appointment will take, so please allow plenty of time.
If necessary, please make appropriate arrangements at home before you come to the hospital. For example, you may need to ask a friend or relative to collect your children from school.
If you're travelling a long way, you may want to stay somewhere overnight to break up your journey.
We can usually help patients with accommodation. We may also be able to help any relatives and friends who come with you, but you should ring first to check.
For information on types of accommodation and contact details please see our accommodation pages.
More useful information about your care
Will there be students around?
Both Guy's and St Thomas' are teaching hospitals, responsible for training a wide range of health professionals. This means that students, supervised by qualified staff, may be involved in your care. It does not affect the quality of your treatment in any way, but does provide valuable training for the students.
If you do not want to be seen by students, please tell the doctor or nurse in charge - it won't affect your care in any way.
Involving you in your care
We want to make sure you fully understand your condition and the options available to you.
Before you receive any treatment the doctor will explain what he or she is recommending and will answer any questions you may have. No treatment is carried out without your consent unless it is an emergency and you are unconscious.
We are a major centre for health research, developing future treatments and care. You might be asked to take part in a study. The researcher will explain the study in detail to you, including its aims, why you would be suitable to take part and what it would involve. If you decide to take part, you will be asked to sign a consent form. If you do not want to take part, your care will not be affected in any way.
If you are unsure about anything, please ask.
Is my treatment confidential?
Everyone working in the NHS has a legal duty to keep any information about you confidential. Your information is only shared with those who need to provide your care, including your GP, unless you ask us not to do this.
To give you the most effective care, we hold health records for all our patients. This includes names, addresses, telephone numbers and medical history information.
No information about you will be used in a way that can identify you unless we have sought your permission. We may use some of the information about you for research or education, but only after we have removed any details which would make it possible to identify you.
Before you leave your appointment
Make sure you know:
- what might be wrong
- whether you need any tests
- what treatment is best for you
- what happens next and who to contact.
If the doctor prescribes medicines, you will be asked either to collect these from the hospital pharmacy or from your GP.
There are also some smaller specialist pharmacies. If you need to go to one of these staff will explain where you need to go.
Pharmacy staff can tell you about your medicines, so please feel free to ask them questions.
Current prescription charges apply to all medicines.
If you're entitled to free prescriptions, bring proof of entitlement with you, such as proof of income support, family credit or disability benefit, or a prescription prepayment certificate.
Our spiritual care and chaplaincy service offers 24-hour spiritual, religious and cultural care.
For more information about our services including how to contact us and details of religious services see the spiritual health care section.