Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for our patients, plus the latest visiting restrictions
Page last updated on Friday 16 April 2021 at 16:05
There are restrictions on the number of outpatients that we can bring into Royal Papworth Hospital in order to keep all patients within the hospital safe.
We will contact you before your next appointment and let you know whether we will see you in person or whether we will convert your appointment to a virtual appointment. Please do not just turn up to the hospital.
If we are unable to see you in person, then we may ask you to have blood tests performed locally. If you are uncertain whether you should attend your appointment, please contact the transplant unit on 01223 638007.
If you still have a question, please email the transplant continuining care team.
Am I at increased risk from COVID-19?
What can I do to keep myself safe?
What should I do if I feel unwell?
What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?
What should I do if I think I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19?
Should I get a vaccine for COVID-19?
What about other members of my household?
What happens after my COVID-19 vaccine?
Will I still be able to attend my outpatient appointment?
Are you still performing transplants?
Will I still be able to access my medicines / do I need to stockpile?
How you can help...
Transplant patients are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (CEV). According to data collected by NHS Blood and Transplant, 4.2% of heart transplant recipients and 6.3% of lung transplant recipients had tested positive for COVID-19 by 9 April 2021. Sadly, 19.5% of heart transplant patients and 29% of lung transplant patients died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test.
Transplant patients may be at particularly high risk if they have established graft damage that has occurred since transplant or have another risk factor such as older age, being from a black or Asian minority ethnic group, obesity or kidney problems. Lung transplant patients who require oxygen or NIV are likely to be at the highest risk.
Patients with chronic heart or lung disease are also at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19, so we believe that patients who are on the waiting list for heart or lung transplantation should also be classed as CEV. We have registered all our waiting list patients on the national database of CEV individuals.
Follow national guidance in order to keep safe and help prevent spread of the virus. The guidance advice changes frequently and it is important to keep regularly updated.
You should have received a letter from the government which tells you about CEV status and help that is available. If you have not received this letter, then please email the transplant unit.
You may want to download the government COVID-19 app, which provides local information about infection rates and can help with tracking/tracing of contacts.
It is extremely important that you do not go directly to your transplant centre unless advised to do so by a member of the transplant team.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may be similar to other problems in transplant patients which can make it difficult to decide the best course of action. Regular spirometry is recommended for lung transplant patients.
If you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing you should call the transplant unit on 01223 638007. If you are generally well despite having coronavirus symptoms, it is likely we will ask you to call NHS 111 to arrange local COVID-19 testing.
If you are unwell or you are a lung transplant patient with a significant drop in lung function, then you may be asked to attend your local hospital or Royal Papworth Hospital. If you are advised to come to Royal Papworth Hospital, please stay in your car and call the transplant unit nurses on 07775 587395 to advise them that you have arrived.
Do not enter the hospital without first making contact with the transplant team.
If there is concern based on your history, a member of staff will come to meet you with protective clothing for you to wear and will direct you to the most appropriate place immediately. Please continue to follow advice regarding social distancing and handwashing stringently.
You must immediately self-isolate.
Please contact the transplant unit on 01223 638007 because we need to report your COVID-19 case to NHS Blood and Transplant. Do not stop taking your immunosuppression. We will tell you if your medications need to change.
You may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Help is available while you are self-isolating, including financial support and practical help with everyday tasks like collecting shopping or medicines.
If your symptoms worsen while you are self-isolating, then contact the transplant unit on 01223 638007. Depending on your circumstances, we may ask you to contact NHS 111 or use NHS 111 online.
If you develop life-threatening symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, blue lips, pale/blotchy skin, collapse or drowsiness/confusion, immediately dial 999 and tell the operator that you have COVID-19.
If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, then you should self-isolate and arrange a COVID-19 test. The questions above explain what to do if you start to feel unwell or receive a positive COVID-19 test.
The short answer is 100% yes.
More than 32 million people in the UK have now received the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines from Novavax and Janssen will arrive in the coming months. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be the most widely used because the UK has ordered 100 million doses and the vaccine is easily stored.
Many of these vaccines use new technology. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a piece of genetic material (mRNA) which gets into cells of the human body and those cells then make spike protein, one of the surface proteins on the COVID-19 virus. The AstraZeneca vaccine also genetic material for spike protein but this gets into the body using a viral vector - an inactivated chimpanzee adenovirus which does not cause disease in humans.
The vaccines should teach your immune system to recognise the COVID-19 virus and should protect you if you encounter the virus in real life.
We believe that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for transplant patients.You should be offered a COVID-19 vaccine and we strongly recommend that you are vaccinated.
If you have not heard from your GP about vaccination, please contact the transplant unit so that we can check you are on the 'CEV' list.
More COVID-19 vaccine information.
On 31 March 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided that other adult members of your household should be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination. This is to reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
Please ask other adult members of your household to contact their registered GP, state they are a household contact of a severely immunosuppressed individual and request an appointment for vaccination.
Please contact the transplant unit on 01223 638007 to let us know that you have been vaccinated. Have your vaccine card to hand because we would like to know the date of vaccination and the type of vaccine.
It is important to acknowledge that transplant patients were not included in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. As such, we don’t know whether COVID-19 vaccines are equally effective in transplant patients. It is possible that medications used to suppress the immune system might reduce response to the vaccine. A study from the USA suggests that fewer transplant patients generate an antibody response after vaccination, but we don’t know what this means for these patients. It is possible that the T cell response to vaccination is more important than the antibody response.
We recommend that you continue to follow national guidance and keep yourself safe after vaccination. When enough of the UK population have been vaccinated, then the COVID-19 pandemic should start to ease. This is likely to be the most important way in which the vaccine helps transplant patients.
There are restrictions on the number of outpatients that we can bring into Royal Papworth Hospital in order to keep all patients and staff in the hospital safe.
We will contact you before your next appointment and let you know whether we will see you in person or whether we will convert your appointment to a 'virtual' appointment. If we are unable to see you in person then we may ask you to have blood tests performed locally.
If you are uncertain whether you should attend your appointment, please contact the transplant unit on 01223 638007 before you travel to Royal Papworth Hospital.
Our programme has remained open for heart and lung transplantation throughout the pandemic, prioritising our most unwell patients. We are confident that we can safely perform transplants and protect immunosuppressed patients in our hospital. However, our hospital remains busy with COVID-19 and it is possible that we may be unable to do a transplant because of ‘logistical’ problems on the day or night, such as lack of an intensive care unit bed after the operation.
We keep the situation under regular review. Like all transplant units, we would only stop transplantation as a last resort. This might happen if our hospital became too full to be safe or if there were severe staff shortages.
We continue to work closely with our NHS partners (e.g. Homecare) to make sure we have enough supplies of medicines for our patients. If you are currently receiving medicines such as anti-rejection medication from Homecare, this will continue. The main change people may experience is that drivers may not ask for a signature and may stay a safe distance away from patients by setting the parcel down and then walking away and waiting for the recipient to pick up the parcel. No medicines will be left unattended.
Please see our pharmacy COVID-19 page for more information.
As usual, make sure you have enough ‘buffer stock’ by keeping at least two to four weeks’ worth of your medicines at all times, and requesting repeat prescriptions or Homecare deliveries well in advance of this supply running out. That will give your pharmacy or Homecare provider enough time to deal with any shortages should they arise.
It’s important to note that this is standard practice for our patients and not new advice.
If you are experiencing any difficulty getting hold of a supply of your medicines, or if you have any concerns about their availability, please let the transplant continuing care team know as soon as possible by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.