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How we look after you

Everything we do is informed by our values: kind, safe and excellent.

Patient safety

Patient safety informs everything we do. It’s one of our six priorities and at the heart of our values – kind, safe, excellent. Everyone who works at Cambridge University Hospitals is responsible for patient safety.

Patient safety covers a range of things from protecting you against infections like MRSA, C.Difficile, Covid-19 and Norovirus, to ensuring high standards of care to prevent pressure ulcers, falls and blood clots.

Safe practice is a key element in all aspects of our work and future development. A major part of this is to encourage a culture of openness among our staff so incidents and concerns are reported, and we can learn, act and improve.

We also listen carefully to what our patients say about their care and encourage you to take the initiative and question anything you feel may affect your safety or wellbeing.

Infection Control

Infections aren’t fussy about who spreads them, so we all need to be careful. Here are some simple things we can all do to help prevent the spread of infections…

Wash and clean your hands thoroughly and regularly:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water every time you enter and leave a ward or clinic. This will help protect you against the winter vomiting bug
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after visiting the toilet 

Read more how we're keeping our staff and patients safe during Covid-19.

Safeguarding adults

All our staff have a duty to promote and protect the right of every adult to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. At CUH we have processes in place to enable partnership working across our region’s health and social care community in order to address the risks and experience of abuse and neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is central to proceedings, and that due regard is given to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding any action that concerns them.

To ensure that this is the case, we have taken the following measures:

  • We are a member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board (opens in a new tab) and are represented on all relevant subgroups
  • DBS (opens in a new tab) (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are made on all new staff  in accordance with NHS Employer guidelines and our own safeguarding policies
  • A clear and well publicised referral pathway is in place for staff to use to raise concerns on behalf of patients who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Training is provided for all staff to ensure they understand our commitment to safeguarding, have an appreciation of the Care Act 2014 (opens in a new tab) and the ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ approach, and are competent in identifying and appropriately escalating safeguarding concerns
  • We adopt a robust approach to the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (opens in a new tab) and the associated Deprivation of Liberties Safeguards
  • The Named Nurse for Safeguarding Adults is accountable for co-ordinating safeguarding duties, for liaising effectively with partners and for providing evidence of enquiries both internally and externally where required
  • Adult safeguarding activities are presented quarterly and annually to the board of directors

Safeguarding children

All staff have a duty to be aware of the special attention children and young people (under 18 years of age) should be given while in our care.

To ensure this is the case, we have taken the following measures:

  • Reports are presented to the board of directors every six months on safeguarding children
  • We carry out regular audits to check our systems and processes are effective
  • We have clear procedures in place in the emergency department (A&E) and staff receive regular update training on safeguarding children
  • DBS (opens in a new tab) (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are made on all new staff in accordance with NHS Employer guidelines and our own safeguarding policies
  • Training in safeguarding children is one of the components of the corporate induction programme for all new starters and is included in the annual mandatory refresher training
  • A named nurse and named doctors have specific responsibility for safeguarding children across all parts of our hospitals - they are clear about their roles and are given sufficient time to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities

Privacy and dignity

We respect the dignity, privacy and independence of everyone who uses our services:

  • We will always work to maintain your privacy, dignity and modesty

Our staff should always treat you without discrimination and within the law

  • We should recognise individual differences and respond to these with sensitivity
  • We have a responsibility to make your time with us as pleasant as possible

We recognise that is some cases we may have to compromise on these principles in order to provide you with the best treatment. In this case, we will make every effort to minimise the impact. Where possible, we will always discuss this with you, ensuring that you are informed about the issue and its effect.

Members of the opposite sex - what to expect when in hospital

Other than in exceptional circumstances you can expect:

  • The room where your bed is will only have patients of the same sex as you
  • Your toilet and bathroom will be just for your gender and will be close to your bed area. You will not have to walk through areas designated for the opposite sex
  • You may share some communal space, such as day rooms or dining rooms, and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital (e.g. on your way to X-ray or the operating theatre)
  • It is probable that visitors of the opposite gender will come into the room where your bed is, and this may include patients visiting each other
  • It is almost certain that both male and female nurses, doctors and other staff will come into your bed area
  • If you need help to use the toilet or take a bath (e.g. you need a hoist or special bath) then you may be taken to a “unisex” bathroom used by both men and women. A member of staff will be with you, and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time.

Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen when it is:

  • Clinically necessary, for example where patients need specialist equipment such as in intensive care and high dependency areas
  • Or patients actively choose to share — for instance  in the dialysis and chemotherapy unit


Protecting the privacy and dignity of patients is a key part of our core values.

Whether it’s during an outpatient appointment or as an inpatient, you may want to have a chaperone present during an examination or procedure and it’s our policy to do everything we can to facilitate this.

A chaperone may be a friend or family member, or perhaps your care support worker – this is known as an ‘informal chaperone’.

If there is no-one to fulfil this role for you, you can request a member of staff to accompany you – known as a formal chaperone.

In some cases, it’s mandatory for CUH to provide a formal chaperone. For example, situations involving the care and treatment of ‘adults at risk’ (Care Act 2014 (opens in a new tab)) where the patients may be subject to the safeguards associated with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (opens in a new tab) and ‘best interests’ decision-making processes.

If the examination is considered to be ‘intimate’ in nature, a formal chaperone is also required.

The role of the chaperone in these cases is to provide practical assistance with the examination and support the patient, family member/carer, as well as the person examining.

In a clinical emergency, where intervention is urgently required, the need for a chaperone still remains but may be waived if this is deemed to be in your best interests.

Please let us know your preferences, as someone’s understanding and expectations of ‘intimate’ examinations can vary widely according to their background and beliefs.

Chaperoning children

Our policy specifies that all children under 18 must have an adult with them at appointments, and a chaperone will be present for all examinations.  Examination is performed by trained members of staff and will always be explained to you beforehand. The role of the chaperone is to provide practical assistance with the examination and to provide support to the child, family member/carer, as well as to the person examining.  Older children, who are making the transition to adult services, will have a discussion about how this is managed, and the adult chaperone policy explained to them.


ReSPECT stands for Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment and has been developed nationally in collaboration with clinicians and patients.

In summary, it’s an individual plan which you can put in place to help ensure you get the right care and treatment in an anticipated future emergency in which you no longer have the capacity to make or express choices.

To help inform the plan, health professionals will have conversations with you about what outcomes are most important or most feared by you.

They the use this information to make a series of clinical recommendations – including a recommendation about attempted resuscitation (CPR) in partnership with you. This is then recorded on a ReSPECT form.

Some patients will wish to take their ReSPECT form home with them.

ReSPECT is also recognised by ambulance services, nursing homes, hospices and the wider health care community.

If you have any questions please email Alexandra Malyon, Elisabetta Galasso-Robinson or Zoe Fritz.

Clinical ethics forum

Making decisions about healthcare can sometimes be difficult or confusing. Conflict over the choices of what should be done can cause ethical dilemmas related to values or personal or religious beliefs.

The Clinical Ethics Forum provides advice to healthcare professionals and other involved parties about the complex ethical issues that can arise in the course of patient care.

The forum is made up of representatives from various clinical departments from the hospital as well as our Governors and is multidisciplinary.

It aims to facilitate discussion among healthcare professionals or other involved parties faced with concerns or conflict over patient care decisions.  These decisions include, but are not limited to:

  • Beginning of life decisions
  • End of life decisions
  • The decision to offer treatment or not

At a Clinical Ethics Forum meeting the members hear from the parties involved in the patient’s care in order to understand all the issues and concerns. 

They also provide advice regarding the treatment or decision opinions in any given case, so as to help the health care team to come to agreement over the ethically permissible options.

Armed Forces Covenant

We recognise the value serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families bring to our organisation. 

We are committed to the Armed Forces Covenant (opens in a new tab) which aims to ensure:

Please see our Armed Forces Covenant webpage to find out more.