COVID-19 (coronavirus) update.

We have implemented a number of restrictions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 at the RHN.

Read about the measures we are taking to keep our patients and residents protected.

Staff FAQs


These FAQs will be updated regularly

Updated 13 November 2020

Thank you for everything you do. Your work has never been more valuable, and you have our complete support.

With the latest national lockdown starting on 5 November non-clinical staff will continue to have essential reasons to come into the RHN, but the balance will swing in favour of more working from home, depending on the needs of your job, if you are in a front-facing team, individual travel, risk assessments, and the preference of some staff to come in based on their personal circumstances or mental well-being. Please avoid public transport if at all possible and if you do need to come to the RHN, please ensure that you are strictly observing all of our infection control measures. Please continue to discuss the requirements of your job with your line manager and agree a work pattern for the period of national lockdown.

We are all in this together and we will come through it together, a stronger and united team. Please read our booklet – Staff support during COVID-19 – for factual information about the virus and places you can access help if you’re worried about your health.

Our previous guidance on returning to the workplace is still available to read.

Coronavirus – what is being done at the RHN?

We have made a swift and sensible plan to protect our vulnerable patients and residents, and to keep our staff safe and healthy. We have had plans for many weeks and have an operational team managing the situation 24/7.

Lesley Mill, Director of Service Delivery, is leading our response, making sure we are connected to our NHS partners for support, and to provide help where we need to. In order to do this she works off site but is in contact with the teams constantly.

What is the national situation?

England is going into a new lockdown on 5 November. The guidance can be read here.

We receive advice daily from Public Health England and we adapt our plans accordingly. Please follow the news for information, it changes frequently as the Government manages the situation.

What are the RHN’s actions?

On Monday 9 March the hospital was divided into zones. Staff must now work and stay within their zones. This was a key measure to reduce the risk that the virus could spread. We started a hand washing campaign and restricted access to Reeds.

On Sunday 15 March we stopped hospital visiting. This was a difficult but necessary decision to reduce risks.

We have developed a work from home plan for staff who do not need to be on site and all meetings are now held online.

Staff must observe social distancing – which means standing at least two metres away from each other. Whilst this may not always be possible, it is important to do this wherever we can.

On 18 May we moved into a recovery phase, having had over 30 days without diagnosing any new infections. This is a 12-week plan to restart services and activities, slowly bring staff who’ve been working from home back to the hospital, and work towards family visits. The project team continues to meet twice daily, seven days a week. Careful planning of this phase is critical, to ensure we avoid new infections and reduce risk wherever possible.

Who provides our clinical advice?

We have great support from our Infection Control team, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Monet Marinas, and our Consultant, Giuseppe Pichierri. They are working around the clock to give us accurate guidance and ensure we take the right steps in every situation we face.

How should I travel to work?

To avoid contact with people on potentially crowded public transport, like the 170 bus, we’re encouraging staff to walk, cycle or drive to the RHN where possible.

We’re also running a shuttle bus service between the RHN’s main reception and Brighton Yard at Clapham Junction, to help staff avoid crowded buses. The seven-day service runs every evening at:
  • 4.40pm RHN to Clapham Junction station
  • 5.40pm RHN to Clapham Junction station
  • 8.15pm RHN to Clapham Junction station

What should we tell our families?

We must always be honest, but we will not give information about individual cases, or numbers of possible infections.
Please provide reassurance that we have plans in place, and advise them to check the Coronavirus precautions page on our website for up to date information.

In very exceptional circumstances we will consider visiting, but this must be discussed and agreed by the Director of Nursing.

How and when are patients tested?

If a patient shows symptoms of COVID-19 we will test them by taking swabs.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever and cough. Because of their underlying health conditions, many of our patients will spike temperatures and will cough from time to time. It’s is therefore hard for us to know whether this is a ‘usual’ sign, or a COVID-19 infection.

As a precautionary measure we will act as if it is an infection until we have negative test results. This will mean we isolate the patient and use protective clothing, masks, aprons and gloves. This may also mean we isolate the entire ward.

As a result of this, we will test and isolate more patients than we need to, but it is the safest action to protect them and our staff.

Test results take between 24 – 48 hours, but this changes as demand for testing increases.

Are staff being tested?

We are running a testing service for both staff and their households. This is for staff who are unwell with symptoms or who are in a house with someone who is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms. Please contact your line manager if you think you may need a screening test, or you want to ask about testing. They will arrange for you to speak to the screening team who will contact you. Our screening service can come to your home to test you if you are unable to travel.

What do I do if I feel unwell?

It is important to keep our workforce healthy. If you feel unwell, between 8am and 5pm call the COVID-19 helpline ext 6493. If you need a test please contact your manager, who will arrange it.

I am concerned about my own health. What should I do?

We take  the health and welfare of our staff very seriously. During this situation we will support you to make sensible decisions about your own health, providing up to date information to help you.

If you have a health condition that means you are anxious about being at work at the moment, please discuss your concerns with our HR and Occupational Health teams.

Send an email, outlining your concerns to Priscilla Robinson, HR Business Partner and please include your contact phone number.

Priscilla will discuss your concerns with the Occupational Health team and call you back. You may be asked to provide a letter from your doctor, but this will be discussed with you.

What is the advice for pregnant healthcare workers before 28 weeks’ gestation?

If you are in your first or second trimester (less than 28 weeks pregnant), with no underlying health conditions, you should, where possible, avoid caring for patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection. If this is not possible, you should use personal protective equipment (PPE) as advised by the Infection Control team, and undertake a thorough risk assessment. Pregnant women can only continue working where the risk assessment supports this.

What is the advice for pregnant healthcare workers after 28 weeks’ gestation?

If you are in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks pregnant), or have an underlying health condition – such as heart or lung disease – it is recommended you avoid direct patient contact. It is better to work from home where possible, avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

What does social distancing mean?

Social distancing means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible.

It means people must stand more than two metres away from each other and for no longer than 15 minutes. This is REALLY important and a very effective way of staying safe.

What is self isolation?

Self isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people.

Why should I self isolate?

If you have symptoms of COVID -19, a temperature higher than 37.8 degrees and a dry cough lasting more than four hours, you must self isolate immediately.

Call our advice line, ext 6493 if you’re at work, or 07464 496 354 from outside the hospital. These lines are open 24/7 for us to discuss your symptoms and conduct telephone screenings.

Will I be paid if I have to self isolate?

Yes, you will be paid your normal salary (minus enhancements) for the duration of your isolation period.

Where possible we expect that you will work from home and return as soon as you are fit and able to do so.

What is the period of self isolation?

Government advice on Tuesday 17 March states that a single person must self isolate for 7 days. If you live in a family, the whole family must isolate together for 14 days.

I am over 70 years old. Should I self isolate?

Government advice has advised that anyone who is 70 years old or more should isolate themselves for 12 weeks. Please contact the HR team for further information.

I am pregnant. Should I self isolate?

Government advice is that anyone who is pregnant should isolate themselves for 12 weeks. Please contact the HR team for further information.

What can I say on social media?

Please do NOT make comments about activity in the hospital on your social media platforms. This causes anxieties and is unprofessional.

I have annual leave booked but my holiday has been cancelled. What should I do?

You can take your leave, or discuss with your line manager the possibility of postponing your leave and working as usual.
If you choose to work, you will be able to carry over the days you cancel – in addition to the five days we usually allow.

Schools and nurseries are closing, but some are staying open for children of key workers. Am I a key worker? 

Yes – all RHN staff are key workers.

How can I prove this to my child’s school/nursery?

We have written a letter that you can give to the school/nursery if they ask for evidence of your employment/key worker status.

If you need a letter, please email Keyworker@rhn.org.uk – state your full name, profession and job title. You will be emailed the letter you can give to your child’s school.

We do expect staff to make every effort to find childcare solutions so we can ensure we continue to maintain our frontline services.

Is it possible for me to move into the staff accommodation for a short time so I can continue to work?

Yes. We have a small number of vacant rooms and accommodation options, so please email Emma Harman if you would like to discuss any of these options.

Staff wellbeing

Staying well and being positive is important but we understand this is a difficult and frightening time for everyone.

We are a strong community and will work together to support each other. We all react to stressful situations in different ways and we have a different set of our own worries. This is the time to be kind, sympathetic and understanding.

Our Clinical Psychology team have created some useful resources to help maintain your wellbeing during these difficult times.

We have a confidential counselling line – please call if you would like to speak to someone for support.

Phone number: 0800 085 1376

Email: assist@cic-eap.co.uk

You can also visit www.well-online.co.uk to access their online live chat function.
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