Admission to GOSH during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

We understand that you might be worried about coronavirus – also known as COVID-19. This information sheet from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains what to expect when your child is admitted to GOSH for a procedure, test or operation. Please read this alongside our general FAQs for families at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-FAQ. You can also find the latest news, information and resources in our COVID-19 information hub at gosh.nhs.uk/coronavirus-hub.

When you come GOSH, you may find things look a bit different to previously. We’ve introduced extra safety measures to keep children, young people, families and staff at GOSH as safe as possible. We’re still providing the high standard of care we always do.

Things may continue to change as we respond to the latest guidance, but we will always contact you if there are any major changes to your child’s admission or procedure.

If your child or any member of the household has symptoms of coronavirus, please do not come to GOSH. Contact the online NHS 111 service at nhs.uk for urgent medical advice. Please call us to let us know, so we can reschedule your appointment and offer advice and support.

If you are worried about your child or feel their life is at risk, you should call 999 or go to your local A&E or urgent care centre as you normally would.

One to three days before your child’s admission

Children and young people who are due to have an overnight stay, or specific procedures as a day case, will need to come to the hospital for a pre-admission assessment. This could be up to three days before your child’s procedure.

We’ll contact you in advance to let you know when the assessment will be and to arrange the visit. Wherever possible, we will combine this with any other pre-admission assessment tests your child needs, for instance, taking blood or urine samples.

This assessment will include testing your child for coronavirus by taking a sample of mucus from their nose or throat. Testing ahead of your admission should mean the results can come back from our lab in time to contact you if any further action is needed. You can find more information on what this test involves at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-testing.

If your child tests positive for coronavirus and it is safe to do so, we will re-schedule their admission for a later date. If you have any concerns about having the test, please contact your clinical team.

Before your visit, we recommend you watch our family-friendly animation at gosh.nhs.uk/staysafe to hear about the four key things you can do to stop the virus spreading when you come to GOSH. This includes wearing a face covering while you’re at the hospital, in line with national guidance. You can read more about what we’re doing to protect patients, families and staff at gosh.nhs.uk/covid-19-FAQ.

After your pre-admission assessment, if you return home, you and your household should limit contact with people outside your household (for instance avoiding crowded areas such as shopping centres) until it’s time to come back to GOSH for your child’s admission. This will help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being bought into the hospital.  

The day before admission, we will call you to check that you and your child are not showing any symptoms of coronavirus. We will give you the results of the swab as well as any further instructions for the stay. Please make sure we have the correct telephone number on file.

Travelling to GOSH

If your child is staying at GOSH overnight or longer, up to two parents or carers can now accompany them to the hospital. These should be the same two carers each day, and only one may stay at GOSH overnight. 

Unfortunately, no brothers and sisters can visit at the moment. If you have other children, please arrange for another adult to look after them – if this is going to be difficult, please contact the Admissions Coordinator.

If your child is likely to be staying at GOSH for more than a week, you can nominate another carer to swap with you after seven days, to make sure you get some rest. Speak to your clinical team to find out how this would work and what the nominated carer needs to know.

We recommend that you use your own car to travel to GOSH. You can find information about parking at gosh.nhs.uk/your-hospital-visit/travelling-gosh)

If you are eligible for hospital transport, you can speak to the Admissions Coordinator to arrange this. More information about hospital transport is available at gosh.nhs.uk/your-hospital-visit/travelling-gosh.

We recommend avoiding public transport if possible, but understand this will be difficult for some families. If you do travel on public transport, you and your child (if they are able to) should wear a face covering, in line with national guidance. If you have any questions or concerns about travelling to GOSH, please get in touch with the Admissions Coordinator.

When you arrive at GOSH

The main entrance is open as usual, while the entrance to the Octav Botnar Wing is open with reduced hours. You might notice things look a bit different than previously. We’ve put lots of measures in place to keep everyone at GOSH safe, from the layout of waiting areas to starfish floor stickers helping everyone keep a safe distance.

Our GOSH guides are still based in the main reception area to greet you and give directions– look out for them in their yellow polo shirts.

We will ask you and your child to use gel sanitiser and – in line with the latest national guidance – that you both wear a face covering while you’re at GOSH. If you don’t have a face covering, we will provide masks for you and your child to wear. We will explain how to put it on and wear it. It’s important that the face covering or mask covers your nose, mouth and chin, and that you don’t touch it while it’s on or hang it around your neck.

We are also advising staff, patients and families to keep a safe 2-metre distance from others wherever possible, practise good hand hygiene, and avoid touching their face to stop germs from spreading.

Please arrive no earlier than ten minutes before your admission or assessment time – if you come too early, we may ask you to wait outside the hospital so our waiting areas don’t get too crowded. Our staff will keep a careful eye on waiting areas and may ask you to wait outside if it’s becoming difficult to keep everyone safely spaced. We will check we have your current mobile phone number and call you back in time for the admission or assessment.

Daily life on the ward

When you arrive on the ward, we will check in your child as usual, take them to their bed and do some admission checks. Your nurse may be wearing various types of personal protective equipment (PPE), like an apron, gloves and a face mask. They may also wear a visor depending on which checks are needed. This helps us reduce the spread of infection, keeping staff, patients and family members safe.

If your child needs to go to other areas of the hospital, for instance, radiology for a scan, we will arrange this. Otherwise, please do not move around the hospital or visit other wards.

Our staff will keep a careful eye on waiting areas and may ask you to wait outside if it’s becoming difficult to keep everyone safely spaced.

We will provide a mask for you to wear when you leave your child’s bed space or room. In line with the latest national guidance, everyone should wear a face covering or mask while inside the hospital.

When you remove the mask, you should take it off using the loops, throw it away in an orange clinical bin and wash or sanitise your hands.

Please do not take your mask home. They are for use at the hospital only and should be disposed of before leaving GOSH, to help reduce the spread of infection.

Visiting

As a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are limiting visitors to the hospital. While we understand that these measures are difficult for families, they are helping us greatly reduce the risk of infection, keeping you, your child and everyone else at GOSH safer.

  • If your child is staying at GOSH overnight or longer, two parents/carers will be allowed into the hospital and these should be the same parents/carers each day.
  • Unfortunately, siblings will not be able to visit the hospital.

If your child is likely to be staying at GOSH for more than a week, you can nominate another carer to swap with you after seven days, to make sure you get some rest. Speak to your clinical team to find out how this would work and what the nominated carer needs to know.

Ward kitchens, food and drink

Our ward kitchens are still open so you can make yourself a hot drink and snack as usual. Please limit the number of people using the kitchen at one time and remember to keep 2 metres apart wherever possible.

Breakfast cereals and toast are available on the ward for your child each morning and they will be able to order food for the following day from our menu.

Play rooms

We have taken the decision to close play areas, but have a variety of ways patients can still access play services. The Play team has prepared activity packs including single use crafts, protected in sealed bags, for patients and their carer to use in their own room or bay. Play Specialist support for distraction is available, as well as a range of sensory toys that are soothing.

If you have any questions about how to access the support of our Play team, please check the sign on the ward’s play room door, speak to your ward’s Play Specialist, or ask the Nurse in Charge. You can find online resources for families, including activities recommended by the Play team, at gosh.nhs.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19-information-hub/covid-19-resources-families.

Having an operation, test or procedure

These will be carried out in the usual way but our staff may be wearing extra protective equipment. Our operating theatres and scanning rooms are thoroughly cleaned several times a day and all hard surfaces such as trolleys and chairs are wiped down in between each patient.

Re-testing for coronavirus

If your child develops any respiratory symptoms or has a fever, we will re-test them for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.

Going home at the end of the stay

We will continue to plan how to discharge your child home after their stay at GOSH as usual. We will make sure that any additional support you need at home will be available.

We would prefer that you are collected by car and driven home rather than using public transport. If you are eligible for hospital transport home, we will arrange this for you.

If you don’t have a car and are not eligible for hospital transport, we recommend taking extra care on your journey home to stay a safe distance from others on public transport whenever you can. You should also make sure you and your child (if they can) are wearing a face covering during your journey on public transport, in line with the latest national guidance. Please speak to your clinical team if you have any concerns or want to learn more about how to stay safe while travelling.

If your child needs medicines to take home with them, we will collect these from the Pharmacy and bring them to you on the ward. We will make sure you understand when to give them and how to organise a further supply from your family doctor (GP) if needed. We will also give you a copy of our discharge summary and send one to the referring doctor and your GP.

Frequently asked questions

We know you will have further questions about your child’s admission – if they are not answered below, please ask your Admissions Coordinator or clinical team.

Is my child more at risk coming to GOSH during a pandemic?

Our clinical teams have been reviewing every planned procedure, operation and admission carefully to determine which patients are able to come to the hospital and which can be delayed safely.

At present, we believe that it is best for your child to come to hospital for assessment and treatment.

We have also introduced lots of extra measures to keep children, young people and their parents safe, as well as protecting our staff. Please follow any instructions given by the nurse-in-charge on the ward and ask if anything is unclear.

I thought everyone had to isolate before an admission to hospital – why is GOSH different?

We have stopped asking families to self-isolate before their planned admission. This is in line with guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) which applies to all children’s hospitals in the UK. There have been few reported severe cases of COVID-19 in children in London and we know that self-isolation was causing significant difficulties for our families. We therefore believe suspending self-isolation is in the best interests of our patients and families.

Why does my child need to be tested if they don’t have any symptoms?

You can develop symptoms of COVID-19 up to 14 days after being in contact with someone who has the virus. Some people may have very mild symptoms, so you may not be aware that you’re carrying the virus.

That’s why it’s really important that we carry out a test before your child’s admission. It will help us to avoid the virus reaching wards that may be looking after vulnerable children and young people, and make sure your child is well enough to undergo their treatment.

I or my child have already had coronavirus – doesn’t that make us immune?

Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about coronavirus yet to say with certainty that you are immune to the virus once you have had it. Some research suggests that it could be possible to get the virus more than once.

I’d rather postpone my child’s admission for now – how long will my child have to wait?

We understand that you may want to put off your child’s admission until the situation has settled. However, our clinical teams have been carefully reviewing each patient to work out who needs our care most urgently and we believe it is important for your child to come to the hospital for treatment at this time.

We have put lots of measures in place at GOSH to make it as safe as possible for you and your child to visit. If you are concerned about your child’s admission, please contact your child’s clinical team as soon as possible.

I live a long way from GOSH or will need to take public transport – could the pre-admission assessment be done on the phone or closer to home?

We will try to carry out as much of the pre-admission assessment on the telephone as we possibly can. For some children and young people, it may be possible to arrange a test for coronavirus closer to home. Please note that this will still need to be within 72 hours of the admission, otherwise we will have to test your child again.

However, for some patients this will not be possible and you’ll need to come to GOSH before their admission. If it is very difficult for you to travel to GOSH for your pre-admission assessment, please get in touch with a member of the clinical team as soon as possible.

I or my child have had a negative test for coronavirus recently. Do we really need to have another one?

If you have previously been tested in a hospital, please tell us where and when you had the test so we can request the results. This test needs to have been carried out within 72 hours of the admission. 

However, please be aware that previous testing will only have shown whether you had the virus present in your body at the time you were tested. You may have picked up the virus since but not be showing any symptoms. We believe that it is safer for everyone – other patients and parents as well as our staff – to test everyone one to three days before admission, just to be sure.

Further information and support

Information from the NHS at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Information for children is available on the BBC Newsround website at bbc.co.uk/newsround

Information from our specialty departments

You can find guidance for specific patient groups here. These were put together by our specialist clinical teams and are being reviewed and added to regularly.