University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

COVID-19 service update for children's cancer and haematology

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic is a very stressful time for our patients. We take the safety of your children as a paramount concern and have been working together to produce this information about our service. This page aims to inform you of the changes that we have made, and others we may make, to how we will deliver oncology care to your child during the coming weeks and months. 

Information from other affected countries show that children with cancer do not appear to be severely affected by COVID-19 but still remain at risk of contracting it.

The most up to date information about COVID-19 and children and young people with cancer is produced by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group and can be found here.  

Changes to the Southampton paediatric oncology service during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the coming months, we expect real challenges in our ability to deliver services in the way that we are used to. However, we hope that with a number of measures we can continue to keep patients, families and staff as safe as possible, and continue to provide the treatment your child needs.

Our main aim is to reduce the number of visits and the length of time that you spend at the hospital as safely as possible.

We have been making plans to consider the impact of:

  • Shortage of specialist oncology staff both at Southampton and within local hospitals due to illness, self-isolation and redeployment to critical care areas and inability of community staff to visit homes where anyone is unwell.
  • Potential risk of infection within the unit.
  • Possibility of shortages with other resources, such as blood products and medicines (although not the current situation).

Some of the changes we have made already include:

  • Offering telephone or video consultations for clinic appointments rather than face to face visits.
  • Changing the frequency or deferring some medications or treatments.
  • Changing the time interval for certain scans.
  • Moving the location for outpatient scans to the Royal South Hants Hospital.
  • Making changes to the frequency of chemotherapy tests such as audiology and kidney function tests.
  • Not routinely removing central lines at the end of treatment and only removing central lines if required as an emergency.
  • Using drugs in different ways eg. changing the route that we give some drugs.
  • Teaching parents and children to become more involved in their care i.e. by teaching you ‘how to flush a line’.
  • Staggering appointment times to reduce contact and asking you to remain in your car if possible until called.
  • Sending you to your local hospital for ongoing care rather than coming to Southampton even if you would prefer to do this.

For those of you that need to visit us at Piam Brown, we ask that you follow this general advice:

  • Use the stairs instead of the lift when possible.
  • Wash hands well and use the hand sanitisers provided before entering and leaving a bed space.
  • Avoid touching surfaces particularly metal surfaces where possible (also door handles and plates, stair rails etc).
  • Please only attend hospital with one accompanying parent or carer and no siblings - unless specifically pre-arranged with nursing staff.
  • Do not attend or visit if you are unwell or have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Please inform us beforehand of any concerns of this.
  • Please stay around the bed space where possible.

For patients attending Piam Brown Day Ward as an outpatient:

  • All planned patients will be telephoned each morning between 7.30am and 8.30am by a member of the day care nursing team to ask you about your child and your family’s health.
  • The nurse will then allocate a time for you to attend the day care unit that day. We will need the name and mobile phone number of the adult bringing them to hospital on that day.
  • Once you have arrived on Piam Brown, please do not leave the ward until your child is discharged and do not visit the shops and food outlets in the hospital.
  • Theatre lists will continue to run on Tuesday and Thursday mornings but capacity has been reduced due to the requirement for all staff to wear personal protective equipment. Any changes to appointments for lumbar punctures etc. will be communicated to you directly.

For patients requiring an inpatient admission on Piam Brown ward:

  • Please stay within the cubicle or around the bedside for those in the two bedded bays.
  • Do not allow your child to mingle with other children and do not mingle with other parents or carers.
  • If your child is admitted to Piam Brown for chemotherapy for less than 7 days, the same parent should stay for the duration.
  • If your child is admitted to Piam Brown for longer than 7 days, parents can swap every 3 to 4 days providing they have followed current Government guidance on shielding and have remained symptom free.
  • At the moment, the parent kitchen is open, but we ask that only one person is in the room at any one time. Wipe down appliance handles before and after use.
  • The Trust has agreed to provide all meals for the accompanying parent to reduce the need for food shopping and food preparation in shared facilities on the ward. There have also been a number of hot food donations from some of our charity partners.
  • There are currently no washing facilities as Ronald McDonald and Jean’s House are now closed. We suggest you bring all you need for admission of 7 days or less and arrange for washing to go home for longer inpatient stays where possible.
  • Please keep rooms as clutter free as possible so that we can keep surfaces clean. Please do not bring your duvet from home, or any toys / items that cannot be wiped (essential comfort toys are acceptable).
  • The playroom and school are currently closed to inpatients so that day care patients can maintain some social distancing whilst waiting for clinic, appointments and chemotherapy.

Thank you for your understanding at this challenging time. By working together we aim to support your child in the best way that we can. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

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