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Our PALS team are available Monday - Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.

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Frequently asked questions

Please see some answers to common questions we have received during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your query is not covered, please use our live webchat facility.

Click on a question to see the answer.  

Should I be attending my outpatient appointment?

If you have a scheduled appointment please attend as normal unless otherwise informed. If you are concerned about coming out of isolation due to being in a high risk group, you can speak with our telephone appointment centre on 01284 713713 who can postpone your appointment.

How can I cancel my appointment as I am currently self-isolating?

Please contact the telephone appointment centre for queries about your appointment on 01284 713713.

Will my appointment be changed to a phone or virtual appointment?

You may be invited to join a virtual clinic – meaning your appointment will take place over the phone or via videocall, rather than face-to-face. If your appointment is suitable for a virtual clinic, you will be contacted by your hospital team beforehand to arrange this.

I am trying to contact the ward to get an update. How can I get through to the ward?

Please refrain from contacting the ward you are trying to reach, and contact our helpline instead on 01284 712555. Available from 9am-4pm, Monday - Friday, our staff will be able to provide updates on patients.

I have planned surgery that is booked in, will this still go ahead?

If you have not heard otherwise, your surgery is going ahead as planned. If you have any queries please contact the admissions team on 01284 712810.


What are the visiting times for the hospital?

We currently have visitor restrictions in place. Please see the visitor information here.

Are children allowed to visit relatives in hospital?

Anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed to visit the hospital at this time.

If I am showing symptoms of COVID-19, can I be tested at West Suffolk Hospital?

No. Please do not attend the hospital, if you have symptoms you should visit the NHS 111 website or call NHS 111 following the website assessment.

Is the café open for food and drinks?

Yes, the Courtyard Café is open from 9am-4pm Monday to Friday for takeaway only. We are only taking card payments (no cash). Please maintain 2m social distancing throughout.

Can I still access a taxi to get me home?

Yes, taxis will still be able to access the premises.


I have been called in for an urgent appointment and I don’t have childcare, can I bring my children with me?

Anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed to visit the hospital at this time.

Instead of cancelling my appointment can I postpone it?

Please contact the telephone appointment centre for queries about your appointment on 01284 713713.

Will I see my usual Doctor?

Please contact the telephone appointment centre for queries about your appointment on 01284 713713.

Will I be less of a priority to be treated because I don’t have COVID-19?

Every patient will be treated based on their clinical need and staff will continue to deliver care to all of our patients whilst dealing with COVID-19 cases. Staffing capacity and pressures are being closely monitored 24/7 during this unprecedented time.

If I require emergency treatment am I expected to attend the Emergency Department alone?

Please make every attempt to attend the hospital alone if required. Practice 2m social distancing throughout.


My appointment has been cancelled due to COVID-19 but I am anxious I have serious underlying issues, how long will it be until I can see a clinician?

All patients are being prioritised based on their clinical need and postponed appointments will be rescheduled or delivered in an alternative format as soon as possible. If you are particularly concerned please contact your GP via telephone or contact PALS on 01284 712555 who will try to help.


Why have I been sent a letter by the NHS telling me that I need to follow shielding guidance?

Because of your medical condition and/or the kind of treatment you are receiving, you have been identified by central records as being in one of the groups of patients, identified by the Chief Medical Officers of the UK, as being at highest clinical risk of severe illness were you to contract coronavirus, or COVID-19.

What support will I be able to access now that I am on the Shielded Patient’s List?

The letter you have received from the NHS signposts you to the Government’s website where you can register to access help with essential food and medicines deliveries, as well as support with social contact and daily care needs. The Government is working alongside the NHS and local council partners to support you and others in this group. In addition, you will be able to access support from the NHS Volunteer Responders, either through a referral from your GP, or you can self-refer by calling 0808 196 3646 between 8am – 8pm. We know that many people in the shielding group will already have good support networks among family, friends and neighbours, but if you don’t, the volunteers can help with a range of support, from transport to and from hospital appointments to ‘check in and chat’ – a simple phone call from a volunteer to check that you are doing ok.

After discussions with my GP, I don't think I should be on the Shielded Patient List. What should I do?

You have been identified by the national algorithm. If you have already discussed this with your GP, please inform them and if appropriate they will place a low or moderate flag on your record which will remove you from the list.

Will my GP know that I am now on the Shielded Patient List?

We will inform practices w/c 27th April. A high-risk flag will be placed upon your record.

Have patients been missed off the NHS Shielded Patient List?

The shielded patient list combines patients identified by the national algorithm with those added by hospitals and general practice. We are committed to ensuring that all eligible patients are added to the list and, as patients are diagnosed with high risk conditions, they are given the same ability to shield as those when the list was first generated. If a patient feels that they should be included on the list but have not been notified they should contact their GP or hospital consultant.