We are now running our elective services at around 80% of pre-COVID levels. Social distancing within the hospital has dictated the number of patients we are able to accommodate face to face. Where possible, we are working to avoid unnecessary appointments without compromising the way our patients are able to access our service.
Is there a risk of catching Covid-19 while in hospital?
Yes, there is a risk involved with coming to the hospital for an outpatient appointment or an operation. We do not know exactly what this risk is, but we feel that it is safe enough to allow normal clinics to run, with social distancing measures in place. If you feel that you are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 on account of any medical condition you may have or drugs that you are taking, then please check with us or your GP before attending.
If you are awaiting an out-patient appointment:
With the ongoing social distancing requirements we have to meet, outpatient clinics will be very different to pre-Covid days. If we think that a face to face appointment is unnecessary, you may be offered a video or telephone consultation. You can also let us know if you would prefer this to a hospital visit, although for some conditions a diagnosis cannot be made without a face to face consultation.
Use common sense when attending the hospital. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, then clearly you should isolate at home rather than attend. It your problem is urgent, then contact the hand service secretaries and let us know.
All patients are requested to wear a mask where appropriate and all staff will observe the current regulations on PPE.
If you are on the waiting list for surgery:
All patients awaiting routine surgery have been assigned a priority in order to rationalise how we send for patients. This is not done according to how long someone has been waiting, but on clinical priority. A rough guide follows:
- Category 1 – Surgery required within 1-3 days
- Category 2 – Surgery required within 1 month
- Category 3 – Surgery required within 3 months
- Category 4 – Surgery required, but can wait for more than 3 months
In elective hand surgery, most patients fall into category 3 or 4, with nerve compression (carpal tunnel decompression or cubital tunnel decompression) and trigger finger classed as category 3, and most Dupuytren’s surgery and osteoarthritis surgery classed as 4.
Current hospital policy regarding admission:
At present, the hospital guidelines state that all elective patients should socially distance starting 2 weeks prior to admission. This should not be too difficult since the official current advice is that we should all be socially distancing. Three days prior to admission, you will be asked to take a Covid-19 test, and following this test we are asking patients to socially ISOLATE for the 3 days up until the time of surgery.
Policy is changing on a week by week basis, and although we will try and keep up to date with this, it is likely that the rules will change regularly. This always causes a degree of stress for both patients and for the secretaries, who are on the front line of communicating the policy.
Do I need to continue to self-isolate after my operation?
We are not asking patients to self-isolate again after their operation. We appreciate the significant impact that isolating yourself has for patients and their families. We do, however, encourage common sense, maintain social distancing and adhere to the guidelines from Scottish government. Above all, if you have a query following your operation, please contact our service.
Please be patient with us if you feel that the advice given seems to be shifting all the time – it is very frustrating for everyone, but the aim is to try and work through the backlog of cases that has been generated over the last few months.
© Fife Hand Service 2021