Coronavirus - Patient FAQs

Face mask wearing - FAQs for outpatients and visitors

Why are we asking visitors/patients visiting the site to wear face coverings?

Outpatients or visitors coming to the hospital will be asked to wear face coverings to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others. Evidence has shown that those infected with Covid-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.

Do I need to wear a mask/face covering?

Yes.  You will be asked as you enter the hospital to put a mask on if you are not already wearing your own face covering.  This is to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.  We strongly recommend that you do so unless you have a medical reason not to, in which case please discuss with the clinical team either prior to or on arrival.

Can I wear my own mask / face covering?

Yes.  You may keep your own mask/face covering on during your visit.  

If you have been shielding at home we will offer you a medical grade face mask to wear when you arrive at your outpatient clinic area.  Please ensure you identify yourself as shielded at the clinic reception. 

Are home-made cloth masks acceptable? 

Outpatient and visitor face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade:  

All visitors will be expected to comply with 2 metre social/physical distancing and the recommended hand hygiene measures.

Where applicable, visitors to high risk Covid-19 areas of the hospital or visitors of patients with confirmed Covid-19 must wear appropriate PPE as per the current IPC guidance

Staff should comply with the guidance on wearing a surgical face mask (as appropriate when in clinical/non-clinical areas) whilst at work. 

When do I change the mask?

If your mask is excessively wet or soiled, or becomes damaged, it should be changed. Disposable masks should be removed when leaving the hospital and placed in the designated bins.

Do I need to throw my own face coverings away?

No.  Please ensure that reusable (fabric) face coverings are washed on your return home and that you wash your hands before and after removing them. Disposable masks may be disposed of in a household bin.

What do I do if I need to eat or drink?

  • Wash/alcohol gel your hands.
  • If wearing a face covering remove it carefully by grabbing only the strings and store it in a clean bag or container avoiding touching the front of it or contaminating other surfaces. If wearing a disposable mask remove and dispose of it in the designated bins provided. 
  • Wash/alcohol gel your hands. 
  • Eat / drink.
  • Wash/alcohol gel your hands again before you put your face covering back on avoiding touching the front of it. 
  • If you have been wearing a disposable face mask and are not leaving the hospital imminently then please put on a new mask available from the entrance areas.

Do children need to wear masks?

Where possible do not bring children to the hospital to visit unless they are a patient. Children whose faces are too small for the masks or who become distressed will not be required to wear a mask.

Does my face covering worn for religious beliefs/cultural practice qualify?

Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are acceptable providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose. 

What if I am unable to wear a face covering? 

For some, wearing of a face mask may be difficult and, therefore, all other measures must also be considered and introduced e.g. social/physical distancing, timed appointments, being seen immediately and not kept in waiting rooms.  We will need to work on individual risk assessments with you - please contact your clinical team prior to attending your outpatient appointment to discuss.

I have issues with communication due to hearing loss, what help is available? 

The use of face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic may have an impact on patients who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, as they can block the face of healthcare workers and prevent the ability to use visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading.   The below diagram outlines some good communication tactics we have asked our staff to consider when supporting patients and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

General questions

How do I get to CUH by public transport ?

Park and Ride services have been suspended and the bus operators are running reduced timetables for all routes. Current timetables are available on the Stagecoach and Whippet websites. Please also note that the Outpatients bus stop on the Main Drive will be closed until further notice. All passengers should board and alight buses either at the Rosie or on Puddicombe Way.

Some trains are still running, but please contact Network Rail directly for the most up to date information.

Is hospital transport still available?

Yes, although some services are limited. A number of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) locally are providing transport for essential services only which includes discharges, dialysis and several other long-term conditions. You are advised to contact your GP surgery and ask them to enquire on your behalf with the appropriate provider. Available services differ between CCG areas.

Where can I park?

Currently all visitors can park free of charge in the multi-storey car parks - Car Park 1 (NCP) and Car Park 2 (SABA).

Are the disabled bays still accessible?

The disabled bays in all areas are still accessible with the exception of those opposite the Emergency Department (A&E).

Questions from family/friends

How can I get updates about my relatives?

Please call the ward where the patient is admitted. Staff may be busy and there may be a delay in answering your call, so please be patient and we will respond as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can call the PALS helpline on 01223 216756 or email who may be able to assist. We would ask that one family member calls for updates and shares this information with other family members. Ward staff will ask for the patient’s consent to pass on any information.

How can I find out what ward my relative has been admitted to?

Please call the PALS helpline on 01223 216756 or email You will need to provide the patient’s full name, date of birth and address.

Can I use technology to speak to my loved ones?

Patients can make and receive calls on mobile devices. Patient internet access is available. Patients can also make and receive calls using the Hospedia bedside phones

Can I bring patient necessities/ gifts to the door of the hospital?

Patient visiting restrictions are in place. All non-essential visits to the Trust are prohibited until further notice. Please do not attend the Trust unless absolutely necessary - guidelines for patient visiting are available here .

If you do need to pass on necessities for patients, please call the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) Helpline on 01223 216756 and a member of the PALS team will arrange to meet you and take essential items to the patient. Items such as phones, chargers, toiletries, glasses, hearing aids and other small items for the patient’s wellbeing, such as cards, may be delivered – but please be considerate and limit the amount of items to those which are essential. One set of clothes for patients to wear when discharged, together with nightwear, will be accepted, but only if these are essential.

Patient’s clothes cannot be washed in hospital and will be returned for washing at home when the patient is discharged. Please make sure all items have been cleaned and put all items together in one bag with the patient’s name on.

We have launched Letters from Loved Ones to help families and friends share messages and photographs with patients in our hospitals. Our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team will help you get your message to your family or friend. Please visit our website for more information -

How can I get permission to see my relative/friend in special circumstances?

We have restricted visiting for the sole purpose of maintaining the safety of patients, their families and loved ones, and our staff. There are four exceptions to the no visiting rule which are:

  1. One parent of a child can be present

  2. One birthing partner can be with someone who is in labour and the immediate post birth period (up to 2 hours)

  3. If someone has a defined caring role (for example for our patients with learning disabilities or dementia).

  4. One family member can visit someone who is at, or near, the end of life.

In these circumstances please speak with the ward sister/charge nurse of the ward, who will be able to agree a plan for visiting with you. The clinical teams fully understand that it is distressing for patients and relatives not to be able to allow more open visiting. This is something that we all find incredibly difficult to do, but have to enforce this action in order to save lives.

Can I post letters and cards to patients in hospital?

Please address these to PALS, Box 53, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hill Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ. Include the patient’s name, date of birth, address and ward if known and the PALS team will deliver them to the ward. Alternatively, please call the PALS Helpline on 01223 216756 or email and PALS will be able to take a message to the patient.

Can patients watch TV /  use landline on the ward ?

Our bedside terminal provider, Hospedia, is offering a number of free services to patients.

Telephone calls:

  • Outbound landline calls to 01/02/03 numbers are free and unlimited.

    o Mobile calls are free, capped at two minutes, with no limit on the number of times each mobile number is called.

  • Calls to patients: If a person calls a patient from a landline or mobile, Hospedia charges 13p per minute to cover the cost of running the service. However, the person calling may be charged up to 78p per minute because your network operator charges up to 65p per minute. Hospedia never receives more than 13p per minute.

Free radio services:

o Hospital Radio

o BBC Radio 1

o BBC Radio 2

o BBC Radio 3

o BBC Radio 4

TV Services

  • TV is free of charge from 08:00 until 12:00 on adult wards, and from 07:00 until 19:00 on children's wards.

  • Channels 1 – 5 and Freeview channels are now free for patients via the Hospedia bedside units, along with reduced cost for movies, should patients wish to utilise this facility.

  • A list of additional TV products available for purchase is shown below:

Movies & more 1 day for £5.00

Movies & more 3 day for £10.00

Movies & more 5 day for £15.00

BT Sport 1 day for £10.90

BT Sport 3 day for £25.90

Audio Books – 1 day for £4.00

Audio Books – 2 day for £5.00

Audio Books – 5 day for £7.50

Audio Books – 7 day for £10.00

Audio Books – 14 day for £15.00

Audio Books – 30 day for £20.00

For paid for services please call Hospedia to arrange payment on 0345 414 6000. To speak to Hospedia Customer Services call 0345 414 1234.

How can I make a donation or offer of support for the hospital?

We are so grateful for offers of support to us at this time to help our staff, patients and community.

We have an emergency ‘Help Your Hospital Appeal’ to help the hospital and staff respond to this crisis. More information on the appeal and how to donate can be found at . Offers of support are also welcomed for:

  • Accommodation for staff
  • Childcare
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Services
  • Other support

Please do not attend the hospital site but email your offer to

My relative has died in hospital – how do I arrange the registration of the death?

The registration of deaths service at the hospital has been suspended. The bereavement care team will be able to help and advise, please call 01223 217537.

My relative/friend cannot use a phone, how can I contact them?

Please call the PALS Helpline on 01223 216756 or email and PALS will be able to take a message to the patient.

Patient questions

Should I still attend my appointment?

Where possible appointments are being converted into telephone appointments or delayed to avoid risks to both patients and staff of infection. You may have received a text message or letter stating that your appointment has either been changed to a telephone consultation or been cancelled. If you haven't received either of these then you should attend your appointment as planned. If in doubt please contact the hospital.

I have been told I still need to attend my appointment, but I do not want to, what should I do?

It is very important that you don’t just miss your appointment. If you would rather not attend then please contact the telephone number on your letter and explain the situation. Your clinician will be advised and you will be contacted in due course as to whether your appointment can be carried out by telephone or can be delayed.

I have been told I still need to attend my appointment, but I think it can be dealt with over the phone, what should I d o?

Whether an appointment can be carried out by telephone is very much at the discretion of the clinician depending on the nature of the appointment. If you feel you would prefer a telephone consultation then please contact the telephone number on the bottom of your letter and explain the situation. Your clinician will be consulted and you will be notified in due course.

What should I bring with me?

There are no additional requirements for you to bring anything other than what you would normally bring for your appointment .

If you weren’t able to prepare for your stay, please do not worry. The ward teams can provide you with essentials to maintain your privacy and dignity, and also to ensure you are able to maintain your personal hygiene (for example, a toothbrush, toothpaste etc). We can support families to bring necessary items into the hospital; however, clothing cannot be laundered at the current time .

If there is something specific that you would like to bring in for a loved one, then please contact the Trust’s helpline. 01223 216756 or email:

Should I wear Personal Protective Equipment (gloves, masks, etc)/ Is PPE provided for me?

If doctors think you need to wear PPE during your stay in hospital it will be provided for you.

If you are admitted or are suspected of having COVID-19, please read the patient leaflet available here.

The staff members providing care for you in clinical areas will be wearing personal protective equipment such as a mask to help reduce the risk of infection to them and our patients.

How much risk am I putting myself at by attending the hospital?

The risks of attending the hospital are low but in line with national recommendations to minimise the spread of the virus we have suspended all visiting and have restricted the number of patients coming into the Trust to only those who require urgent or emergency treatment which cannot be delivered elsewhere.

Are there any facilities to store my own food if I bring it with me?

There are no facilities for storage of food. Patients are asked not to bring their own food to site. There is a wide range of food on offer via patient catering to support all diets and cultural requirements.

Are there enough staff to look after me?

Yes, there are enough staff to look after you. Staffing is reviewed regularly every day to ensure that there are enough nurses, doctors and therapists available across the Trust to ensure you receive the right care by the teams in the hospital.

How are you keeping toilets/washing facilities safe?

All toilets and washing facilities are being cleaned in line with national NHS standards.

Is the hospital pharmacy still open?

The Outpatients pharmacy is open as normal. However, as much as possible, prescriptions are being posted to reduce the number of people attending the hospital.

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