Welcome from Caroline Clarke

The care and safety of our patients, staff and local communities is our top priority.

Across the Royal Free London (RFL), we have restarted all of our services and are open for business.

We are not seeing the same number of patients in our hospitals with COVID-19 as we were during the first surge in March/April. If you would like to see the latest numbers, these are available on NHS England/Improvement’s website.

And we would like to reassure our patients that we are here for them should they need to access our services.

We have re-organised how and where some of our care is provided. This is to help us continue to safely provide both planned and urgent/emergency care, while also ensuring that the trust is prepared for any further outbreaks of the virus. You can read more about the measures in place to keep both our patients and staff as safe as possible on our website.

We are aware some of our patients are waiting longer than we would like. We would like them to know that we have not forgotten them. We are working our way through our waiting lists as quickly and safely as possible, prioritising patients according to their clinical need. You can read more here.  

We would be grateful if you could continue sharing these messages through your networks. 

I also wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that we have started discussions with colleagues at North Middlesex University Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital about how we might work more closely together for the benefit of our patients.

Finally, I wanted to remind you that the BBC documentary Hospital, which was filmed at the RFL, has returned to your TV screens. Two episodes have aired so far and I hope you have had the chance to watch them.

The six-part series explores the stories of our patients and staff as the trust faces the challenge of delivering healthcare amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. It captures the compassion and professionalism of staff seen across the NHS every day.

The next episode will air on Monday 23 November at 9pm. You can read more in this update.

Kind regards

Caroline Clarke

Group chief executive
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Service changes

Adult out-patient blood taking services at the RFL 

The adult out-patient blood taking services at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital, Edgware Community Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital are open for all blood tests.

An appointment must be booked for all tests. Patients will need to bring their confirmation text/email - they will not be able to enter our hospitals without this.

More details are available on our website.

Call NHS 111 first

Barnet Hospital has introduced a new booking system for patients who need urgent and emergency care as part of the NHS 111 initiative.

Patients are being encouraged to call NHS 111 first if they think they need to attend our emergency department for an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening, medical need. 

This aims to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment at the right time. 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 healthcare professional earlier, and get the right treatment first time
  • be able to arrange an urgent face-to-face appointment, if needed
  • avoid waiting for a long time in emergency waiting rooms

NHS 111 can also make direct appointments at GP surgeries and urgent treatment centres. They can also despatch an ambulance if the patient’s condition is serious or life-threatening.

Arrangements have not changed for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, who should continue to dial 999 without delay.

This will be rolled out at the Royal Free Hospital in the coming weeks.

Find out more on our website.

Patients experiencing ‘long COVID’ after discharge

Research carried out by clinicians at the RFL and University College London Hospitals into the effects of long COVID has been published in the medical journal Thorax.
The research, led by RFL respiratory consultant Dr Swapna Mandal and Professor John Hurst from University College Hospital, shows that 54 days after discharge, 69 per cent of patients were still experiencing fatigue and 53 per cent were experiencing breathlessness, while 34 per cent still had a cough.

The teams organised a “post-COVID” follow up clinic to review patients and reviewed the information collected. They looked at a total of 384 patients who had been treated for COVID-19 at Barnet Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital or University College Hospital.

Further information can be found on our website.

Royal Free Hospital recruiting to antiviral COVID-19 study

Researchers at the Royal Free Hospital are recruiting people who live in north London and have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or are awaiting a test, to take part in a trial. This focuses on two antiviral drugs and aims to establish if they stop the virus from replicating.

The FLARE trial aims to see if licensed drugs favipiravir and lopinavir/ritonavir, alone or in combination, can inhibit viral replication in early infection - within the first few days of illness.

Researchers are aiming to recruit up to 240 adults aged 18 to 70 to the randomised placebo-controlled trial and participants will take oral medication (tablets) for seven days.

Read more on our website.

BBC Hospital documentary continues

The new series of Hospital, filmed at the RFL, has started on BBC Two. This is a six-part series of which two episodes have aired.  If you missed these, you can still watch them on iPlayer.

The series has so far received five-star reviews and widespread coverage, including in the Mail Online, the Mirror, on BBC Breakfast and BBC London news.

The series is focused on how the trust is getting services up and running and treating as quickly as possible patients who could not be seen during the height of the pandemic.

The next episode will be broadcast on Monday 23 November at 9pm.

Read more on our website.

Rainbow bench unveiled as a tribute to key workers

The RFL is one of three London trusts to be gifted a unique rainbow bench as a thank you to key workers.

The bench is the design and handiwork of Fred Suffield of the Anwick Forge in Lincolnshire. The work was commissioned by the trustees of Grandey’s Place, a centre dedicated to the conservation of Britain's Heritage Crafts. 

The bench is outside the main entrance of the Royal Free Hospital. It stands as a symbol of hope and support for staff arriving on shift and patients receiving treatment.

Read the full story here.

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.

Grateful patient gives back

One of the first patients to be admitted to Barnet Hospital’s ICU with COVID-19 and his wife have made a donation of more than £3,000 to the unit.

Gary, who spent seven weeks in ICU praised the “exemplary” care he received.

The donation has enabled the unit to buy a patient and relative communication tool – information “wallpaper” or very large posters – that give an understanding of the equipment being used to support the patient.

You can read more on the Royal Free Charity’s website.

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