Barnsley Hospital has put in place robust new arrangements in its Emergency Department to protect staff and patients during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The arrangements include a new system in operation at the front end of the Emergency Department to separate suspected Covid-19 patients and non Covid-19 patients.

All patients who come to the Emergency Department will be directed to an external reception area where they will receive an initial assessment. This area is manned by a Consultant and Nurse 24 hours a day and social distancing measures are in place.

Patients will then be either directed to the area dedicated to support patients with Coronavirus symptoms via the existing Emergency Department entrance; assessed by the Consultant and if possible be sent home without having to enter the hospital; or directed to a new entrance to a completely separate Emergency Department area dedicated for patients who are not showing signs of coronavirus.  This change applies to both children and adult emergency care.

As the existing Emergency Department will be used to treat people with coronavirus related needs, the entrance to this area from inside the hospital is closed to members of the public.  Visitors coming to the hospital not requiring the Emergency Department are no longer able to walk through to the main hospital and are required to use the hospital’s main entrance. Electronic security is on operation on specific doors to stop members of the public or patients accessing designated areas.

The new Emergency Department for patients requiring other types of emergency treatment is the physiotherapy area, which is completely separate to the main Emergency Department and accessible via a separate, signposted entrance.  Cars are no longer able to access the area in front of the Emergency Department.

Ambulances are using dedicated, separate entrances for bringing in the two different types of patient groups.  There is dedicated nursing, medical and reception staff for both areas, as well as new signage directing patients into the area they need.

Due to the changes within the Emergency Department, all women accessing maternity services, including the Barnsley Birthing Centre should use the ‘O Block’ entrance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Women are still required to call before attending the Barnsley Birthing Centre as normal, however on an evening and over the weekend the external doors will be locked. Access will be provided via the intercom system. In order to protect our mums and families we will continue to ask about any Covid-19 symptoms before they enter maternity services.  All birthing partners are required to have their temperature recorded to ensure it is below 37.7 degrees prior to entry to maternity services. This is to protect all mothers, babies and staff.

Emergency Department Consultant Dr David Walker said: “It’s really important that people coming to hospital pay attention to our new arrangements at our Emergency Department. We understand people are anxious when they come into hospital and this new way of working will enable us to focus separately on patients who need specific support in relation to coronavirus and on those who need more general emergency department support. At the same time, it’s also crucial to remember we all have a part to play in looking after our own health. Please only come to the hospital if it’s essential.”