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Barts and the London NHS Trust

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Life on the ward  

Is it okay to ask lots of questions?
Yes, go ahead, we really encourage this. We want you to become involved in your health care and play an active part in decision making. We’ll give you lots of information, in person and in writing, so you can feel confident that you are getting the best possible care. It’s important that you understand all the information you are given to ensure you are clear about your diagnosis/condition and tests or treatment. So fire away, whether you want to know more about your condition, or the tests you might need, or the treatment options available. And if you’re worried or want a second opinion, then talk it through with someone in the team looking after you. We’ll always make time to listen.

Will I stay on the same ward throughout my time with you?
We’ll try wherever possible to keep you on the same ward throughout your stay. However, if you need specialist care from another service in the hospital or in the case of an emergency, you may be moved to another ward. But don’t worry, the staff on your new ward will be just as welcoming!

Will I be looked after in a mixed- sex ward?
We understand how important your privacy is, and our priority is to ensure that you are cared for in single-sex facilities. The majority of wards in the hospital have both male and female patients, but patients are cared for in separate male and female bays, and there are separate bathroom facilities for men and women

However, there may be some cases, particularly in emergencies, where we can’t provide single-sex accommodation. This is most likely to happen if you need to be looked after in an emergency or intensive care ward, or a high dependency or observation unit. In exceptional circumstances, this may also occur in general ward areas. Should this be the case, and you would prefer to be in a single-sex bay, you will be temporarily cared for in a mixed-sex area (providing you give your consent). You will be transferred to a single-sex area as soon as a bed becomes available.

I’m an overseas visitor – will I have to pay for my treatment?
Yes, the NHS charges overseas patients, unless they are exempt. Ward staff or the Paying Patients Office (tel 020 7480 4608) can advise you about this.

Do you need my consent before surgery or treatment?
Yes, we do. We won’t go ahead with treatment or surgery without your permission. And you have the right to refuse any treatment or examinations. If you are not able to give your consent, staff will act in your best interests.

Will I come into contact with students?
It’s possible that you will come into contact with students, as all the hospitals in our Trust are involved in teaching students. Often, you will see student doctors, nurses and other trainee clinical staff on the wards. They may help with giving you direct care or examinations (under supervision) and you might be asked to discuss your condition with students. You have the right to refuse to be seen or treated by students – refusal will not affect the rest of your care.

Will I be asked to take part in research?
Trust staff are involved in a variety of research projects and at some stage in your treatment you may be asked to be involved with one of these projects. Any research you are asked to take part in will be relevant to your care. Your consent to be part of a research project will be asked for separately to all other aspects of your treatment. You have the right to refuse to be involved in any research – refusal will not affect the rest of your care.

Will any samples or specimens be taken from me?
Sometimes samples or specimens are taken from you during your treatment to help us understand your condition or plan your treatment. Your consent will be sought if these samples or specimens are to be used for research purposes.

To find out more, please ask a member of staff for a copy of the Tissue Use information leaflet.

Is smoking allowed in the hospital?
No, not at all. As part of our commitment to health and safety, the Trust has a no-smoking policy for all staff, patients and visitors. Smoking is not permitted in any Trust hospital, building or grounds, including the entrances.

Smokers’ cessation clinics: If you want to give up smoking, we can offer support and advice. The Trust runs smokers’ cessation clinics for patients attending any of our hospitals. For further information or to book a place, please contact the smoking cessation clinic on tel 020 7377 7947.

What should I do if I have any fears or concerns?

Don’t panic, you’re in capable hands. If you have any fears or concerns, please speak to a member of staff. If you are unable to leave your bed to speak to a member of staff you can always alert them by pushing your bedside call button or pulling the cord.

What’s the food like?
You get a varied choice, and the daily menus have been devised by chefs who know that you’ll be expecting tasty and healthy food. The ward staff will tell you what time breakfast, lunch and supper are served on your ward. Food can be prepared according to your religious specifications, as well as to your dietary needs (eg, Halal, Kosher or vegetarian). Drinks are served regularly throughout the day. During mealtimes, ward staff and doctors will try to avoid treatments and assessments so you can eat your meals in a calm, peaceful environment. Visitors will be asked to leave the wards unless you need their assistance.

Can I listen to the radio and watch television?
Yes. You can use a headset to listen to a selection of radio programmes at any time, and it won’t cost you a penny. There’s also a free communal television on each ward.

Can I make telephone calls from my ward?
Yes, all wards have a payphone which you can use to make outgoing calls.

Can I call friends on my mobile phone?
You can, but not when you’re on the ward or in other areas of the hospital where there is sensitive medical equipment. We do need to be strict about this as mobiles can interfere with this type of equipment and put lives at risk. If you want to use your mobile, please check with a member of staff that it is safe to do so.

Can I get post?
Yes, post is delivered every day and a member of the ward staff will bring your mail to you. To avoid delays, please ask your relatives and friends to use your full name, the name of the ward and the full address of the hospital. Outgoing mail is collected from the ward each day. Stamps can be bought from the shop located on the ground floor of King George V Wing.

Will a mobile shop visit the wards?
Yes, a trolley service visits the wards regularly, selling newspapers, confectionary, stationery, toiletries, magazines and stamps.

What measures are in place to ensure security on the wards?
We work in partnership with the City of London Police to ensure the safety and security of all patients, visitors and staff.

To help us, please…

  • Don’t bring in credit cards, jewellery, or large sums of money.
  • Don’t leave any valuables unattended in your bed-side locker or bed area.
  • Report any loss or theft to the ward staff as soon as possible.
  • Report anything suspicious to the ward staff.

Aggressive behaviour: We expect all patients and visitors to treat other patients, visitors and hospital staff with respect. Please note that we operate a zero tolerance policy for aggression and violence.