Welcome from Caroline Clarke

I am delighted to let you know that this week we opened our new Rainbow ward at Barnet Hospital.  

We started building this in April during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and it has been completed in a short period of time. Teams across the hospital have worked with external contractors to make this possible and I am extremely proud of everybody who has made this happen so quickly.  

The new ward has 35 beds and will create extra capacity to help treat patients through the winter months. It has 15 side rooms to help ensure that staff can follow the infection control measures needed to keep our patients safe. 

I am also pleased to let you know that, following public consultation, Chase Farm Hospital has been designated as one of two centres for planned orthopaedic surgery in north central London. Chase Farm Hospital will work in partnership with North Middlesex University Hospital. The other centre will be hosted by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) which will work in partnership with Whittington Health. 

You can read more about this and the Rainbow ward in this week’s update.  ​

Kind regards

Caroline Clarke

Group chief executive
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Service changes

Temporary closure of Royal Free Hospital children and young people’s emergency department

To ensure the NHS can continue to deliver the best emergency and planned care across north central London during the winter and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the children and young people's emergency department at the Royal Free Hospital has closed until further notice.

If a child needs emergency care, they should be taken to a hospital with a children and young people’s emergency department such as:

  • Barnet Hospital, Wellhouse Lane, EN5 3DJ
  • North Middlesex Hospital, Sterling Way, N18 1QX
  • The Whittington Hospital, Magdala Avenue, N19 5NF
  • St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, W2 1NY

The children and young people’s emergency department at University College Hospital is also temporarily closed.
If anyone needs urgent medical help or advice, and the situation is not life threatening, they should visit or call NHS 111 to find out where their nearest service is located.

At the Royal Free Hospital, children and young people’s in-patient services have also temporarily closed.
For more information and frequently asked questions, please visit our website.

Reopening of the Edgware Birth Centre

The Edgware Birth Centre will reopen on Monday 12 October.

The safety of women and their baby is our top priority.

One consistent birth partner can be present during labour.

Those accompanying a woman in labour will need to wear a face mask at all times. Staff at the centre will advise whether any specific/additional protective personal equipment is needed.

Further information can be found on our website.

New centres for planned adult orthopaedic surgery

Following a consultation led by North London Partners in Health and Care, NCL CCG has agreed to create two new centres for planned adult orthopaedic surgery. The Royal Free London (RFL) will host one centre at Chase Farm Hospital and UCLH will host the other.
Two partnerships for orthopaedic surgery have been formed: the RFL will work with North Middlesex University Hospital, with in-patient surgery at Chase Farm Hospital and day surgery at both sites. UCLH and Whittington Health will work together to provide in-patient and day surgery. Out-patient appointments and joint school will also happen across these hospitals.
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital will work alongside both partnerships, performing super-specialist orthopaedic surgery.
Patients will have a choice between the two partnerships, which will be responsible for the majority of planned orthopaedic surgery for patients living in NCL and some neighbouring areas.
You can read more on North London Partner’s website.

RFL joins NHS 111 First initiative

Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital are among the first hospitals in London to be trialling a new booking system for patients who need urgent and emergency care.

The hospitals are involved in the NHS 111 First project which is aiming to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment at the right time. With the COVID-19 infection rate increasing, it is vital that emergency departments do not become overwhelmed and overcrowded.

The NHS 111 First programme has been trialled in five hospitals across London in recent weeks and will go live at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital later this month. It means that if patients need to be seen at an emergency department, an appointment can be booked via NHS 111.

By contacting NHS 111 first – whether online or by phone – for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening medical need, people will:

  • Speak with a clinician earlier and get the right treatment first time.
  • Have an urgent face-to-face assessment or treatment arranged there and then, without any further delay if needed. Patients will know exactly where to go, and when.
  • Avoid queues, crowding and time spent waiting in ED waiting rooms, thereby significantly reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. 

Arrangements will not change for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, who should continue to dial 999 as before.​

Keeping patients safe

From changing the way our staff and patients access our buildings, to installing clear markings and signage so patients know where to go when they visit us, we have put measures in place to ensure everyone is as safe as possible when visiting our hospitals.

We have re-arranged our waiting rooms to ensure social distancing. We are also asking patients to come alone to their appointment and only bring one person to accompany them if absolutely necessary.

We have re-arranged our ward areas and where we provide services to make sure there are dedicated spaces for people having a planned operation or procedure.

We are regularly cleaning every area of our hospitals – including our theatres, ward areas and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and lift buttons.

Patients and staff are required to wear a face mask or face covering at all times, and we have increased hand sanitising facilities throughout our buildings.

We are following the latest national guidelines and our teams are working round the clock to make sure patients have a worry-free visit.

We have produced two videos about what patients can expect when they visit us and the new measures in place for patients before and after their operation or procedure and during their stay in our hospitals. Both can be found on our website.

‘I had a liver transplant during the pandemic - I’m a lucky guy’

Kevin Higgs who had a liver transplant at the Royal Free Hospital says he is still counting his blessings following the successful operation in May during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kevin thanked the nurses and doctors who cared for him before and after the procedure. He was also “extremely grateful to the person who donated their liver and their family”.

Kevin is currently shielding at home as the immunosuppressant drugs he has to take so his body doesn’t reject the new liver means he is more vulnerable to infection, including COVID-19.

Read Kevin’s story here.

RFL’s ‘Rising Star’ shines bright

We are delighted Dorcas Boamah, a nutrition clinical nurse specialist, has been named as one of Royal College of Nursing’s Rising Stars of 2020. 

The Rising Star Awards are part of the Royal College of Nursing’s Black History Month celebrations, and they recognise excellence within London’s BAME community.

Dorcas was nominated by Natalie Forrest, chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital, after the two crossed paths at the Nightingale Hospital.  Dorcas’ charismatic, positive and fun personality as well as her willingness to go the extra mile for her patients and her colleagues are some of the reasons why Natalie nominated her.

You can read more on our website.

Project Wingman celebrates six months at RFL

Project Wingman - the initiative backed by members of the airline industry to offer support to NHS staff during the pandemic - has celebrated six months at the RFL.

Volunteer airline staff from British Airways, easyJet, SAS and United Airlines, marked the occasion with festivities including a rainbow cake complete with a runway and an aeroplane on top in their ‘first class lounge’ in the staff restaurant at the Royal Free Hospital.

You can see the photos from the celebrations on our twitter page.

Latest information for the public 

We have a dedicated COVID-19 section on our website. The latest information for patients and visitors, and our patient resources library can be found here. This page is continually being updated to reflect the changing situation.

Over the rainbow: new ward opens at Barnet Hospital

Rainbow ward, Barnet Hospital's new modular unit, opened to patients on Monday 5 October.
The ward has 35 new beds, creating extra capacity to help treat patients through the winter months.
Rainbow ward has 15 side rooms, which will help staff follow infection control measures needed to safely manage patients – particularly important given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The opening of Rainbow ward was overseen by Barnet Hospital’s new director of nursing, Bev Thomas, who felt “privileged to see the first patient arrive”.

In the long-term it will be used for patients receiving medical in-patient care.
Read more here.

Outcomes of clinical trials at the RFL offer new hope for heart patients

Six patients at Barnet Hospital participated in the global EMPEROR Reduced trial, which involved taking a common diabetes drug, empagliflozin. 

This drug is commonly used to reduce the levels of sugar in the blood for those with type 2 diabetes.

According to the results, participants who took the drug for an average of 16 months were less likely to be admitted to hospital with heart failure and their kidney function also improved.

Read more here.

RFL taking part in trial aiming to ‘break the chain’ of transmission in hospitals

The RFL will be participating in a clinical trial, led by scientists at University College London, evaluating the use of ‘real time’ viral genomic data to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals.

The study’s findings could help the NHS reduce further transmission of the virus by determining if an individual caught the virus from someone else within the same hospital.

The RFL is one of 14 sites who are taking part in the trial. It will be led by Dr Tabitha Mahungu, an infectious disease consultant virologist at the trust

Visit our website for further information.

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