Healthwatch City of London Bulletin 31

The bulletin this week gives the latest update on the vaccination programme, changes to hospital visiting guidance and information on our upcoming events.

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

We are saddened to hear about the death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who served this nation selflessly for decades.

On behalf of all our staff and volunteers, we would like to express our condolences. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty, her family, and the nation. Healthwatch City of London.

COVID 19 Vaccination update

Book second dose before hospital hub closes next week 

Local residents who had their first Covid-19 vaccine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital are urged to book an appointment for their second dose before the service closes the week commencing 19 April.

New appointments can be made by emailing the booking team.

Please note, this email address should only be used when booking a second appointment at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London.

Everyone aged 45 and over can get the COVID-19 vaccine

You can book appointments via the National Booking System for a vaccination centre or pharmacy now, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.

AstraZeneca (Covid-19) vaccine

Adults over 30 and those with underlying health conditions can still be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, as the benefits far outweigh the risks. Adults under 30 with no health conditions should be offered an alternative vaccine.

What you need to know

The UK vaccination programme has been very successful, with over 30 million people vaccinated and 6,000 lives saved.

The MHRA and JCVI advise that adults over 30 and those with underlying health conditions can still be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, as the benefits far outweigh the risks. Adults under 30 with no health conditions should be offered an alternative vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

All those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be offered a second dose of AstraZeneca, regardless of their age. Individuals with a certain type of blood clotting are advised not to have the second dose.

Why has this change occurred?

There have been some reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots. Although extremely rare, there appears to be a higher risk in people shortly after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine given. This is slightly more common in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination.

What to do if you are affected

If you experience any of the following symptoms 4 days to 4 weeks after your first dose, seek medical advice urgently:

  • severe headache
  • unexplained bruising
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • leg swelling
  • persistent abdominal pain

Universal testing

Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests to check for coronavirus. So how to get regular rapid tests? There are two ways.

Go to a test site

You can go to a rapid lateral flow test site to get a rapid test.

If you go to a test site:

  • you may need an appointment, so check before you go
  • a trained helper might be able to help you do the test
  • you'll get a text or email with the result when it's ready

Find your nearest rapid lateral flow test site

Get a test to do at home

You can get rapid tests to do at home.

You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 tests from a local pharmacy or test site:

find a pharmacy where you can collect rapid tests

find a test site where you can collect rapid tests

You can get a pack of 7 tests sent to your home. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK

If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone.

Ramadan, the vaccine and getting tested

Local GPs are urging observing Muslims not to delay having their Covid-19 vaccine – first or second dose – during the holy month of Ramadan. Find out more in these videos new videos. The safest and most effective way to protect yourself, your family and those most at risk from the virus is by having a vaccine when you are offered it by the NHS. The British Islamic Medical Association has confirmed that taking the vaccine and taking the PCR or lateral flow tests does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan.

Covid-19 vaccine community pop up clinic

Hackney Community African Network (CAN) and Support Where It Matters (SWIM) are hosting a Covid-19 vaccine community pop up clinic in partnership with our Black African, Black Caribbean and Black British communities.  

This clinic is aimed at City&Hackney residents aged 55+ or those aged 30+ with underlying health conditions such as asthma, HIV or diabetes that put them at increased risk of more severe impact from Covid-19.  Those caring for people at increased risk of Covid-19 can also attend.

The clinic welcomes our homeless residents, undocumented migrants and those not currently registered with GP.  Interpreters are available on the day.

To secure a slot please phone Ola (07518020494) or Peter (07557260174). Walk-ins will be seen subject to availability.

Friday 16 April, 2-6pm

The Pembury Centre

1 Atkins Square, Dalston Lane, London E8 1FA

Guidance on hospital visits

National guidance on visiting hospitals has recently been updated. Each setting has local guidelines to follow. Below is a brief overview of the guidance for Barts, UCLH and Homerton. We urge you to check with the hospital before you visit as they are under constant review.


Visitors must be over 16, and the visit must be pre-booked with the ward team. 

Visitors will only be considered in exceptional circumstances where one visitor – an immediate family member or carer – will be permitted to visit.

These include:

  • One regular carer for a patient with additional needs, e.g. dementia or learning difficulties
  • One parent/guardian for a child
  • One person with you at key stages during your pregnancy, including labour and birth
  • For a patient receiving end of life care
  • For a patient where a change in treatment would benefit from a meaningful exchange
  • One close relative for a long-stay patient where a visit would improve wellbeing.

Outpatients: Must follow guideline – wear mask, do temperature checks, test negative.


Currently not allowing any visitors into hospitals.

Must attend appointments alone, unless you need support for mobility or accessibility reasons.

Visitors will only be allowed into clinical areas if the patient is:

  • at the end of their life 
  • a child 
  • lacks capacity
  • having a baby

Only one visitor at a time will be allowed in these cases. Please note that some wards may have further restrictions to protect the safety of patients and staff. 

The teams can also offer support with facilitating virtual visits at Newham HospitalThe Royal London HospitalSt Bartholomew's Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital.


Adult wards: Visitors can access adult wards to visit relatives - one named visitor per patient between 12 noon and 5pm.

Starlight ward has now reopened for paediatric impatient admissions.

The Children's Emergency Area in the A&E remains 'open' at Homerton 24 hours a day to care for children.

NICU: two parents nominated who are in the family bubble, one parent at the cot side at any one time. Open visiting on the unit between 7am and 8pm. 

Maternity - from Monday 12 April one adult partner is allowed for all antenatal appointments and scans with the following guidance:

  • Adhere to the national programme in place to offer Lateral Flow Testing kits for all women and their partners
  • Women/partners to collect kits and test as advised by national guidance
  • Women/partners to attend appointments if no symptoms or recent exposure to COVID-19 – if symptomatic, exposed, or positive on LFT they will be advised to contact their midwife/helpline to discuss their upcoming appointments and next steps. Women should still access care if urgent. In the case of DNA the DNA process must be followed and the woman contacted.
  • Women/partners to adhere to the screening processes currently in place at the main entrance of the hospital and to the community sites
  • Partners will be refused entry if they decline to adhere to the PPE guidance. They will not be required to provide proof of testing but will be asked to upload the result to the national database.
  • Partners will be asked to wait in the glass corridor (Picton Suite if seating to capacity in the corridor) and the woman will call her partner once she enters the clinic room

Two birth partners on labour ward (delivery suite)

Antenatal ward visiting between 10am – 6pm – one birth partner can stay for induction of labour or in early labour

Postnatal ward visiting between 10am – 6pm – One birth partner. No children at anytime.

Patients coming to the end of life
Relatives will be as asked to supply staff with a list of family members. Only one family member at a time can access the hospital.

For safety reasons and social distancing rules, they ask that visitors do not congregate in corridors. For other areas such as children and maternity they continue to have restricted visiting in place and access to those areas will only be by named persons as provided to the nursing staff.

Blood tests
Enter the hospital via the front entrance to the site on Homerton Row, and ask for directions to the Clifden Centre where the phlebotomists are holding blood testing sessions.

Patients are still urged to attend A&E and children’s A&E if necessary and to attend their appointments (either outpatient, elective surgery or diagnostics tests) in the Covid safe areas of the hospital.

Mary Seacole Nursing Home: one named visitor is allowed between 10.30am and 6pm.

Footcare clinic at the Neaman Practice

Healthwatch City of London has been made aware that some of you have experienced difficulties in accessing the footcare clinic at the Neaman Practice.  Access by phone and by booking directly into the clinic have proved problematic with information on how to book sometimes being contradictory.

Following an investigation, we have identified a system error that has stopped people being able to book into the clinic. This is in the process of being corrected, but in the meantime. any calls that are now received will be re-routed to the Foot Health Team until the system issue is resolved.  Homerton Hospital have assured us that they have this in hand and will keep you up to date on progress.

The Foot Health Team have been made aware of the problem.  If you need access to the footcare clinic you must contact your GP for referral.

If you have had any issues accessing the footcare clinic, or are still experiencing problems please let us know. You can contact us on

Upcoming Healthwatch City of London Events

One of Healthwatch City of London’s purposes is to understand the needs, experiences and concerns of people who use health and social care services and to speak out on their behalf. To ensure we hear about and know of your concerns we run regular events. Ideally, we’d like to hold them face to face, but because of the current pandemic we are restricted to Zoom events.

Please see a list of our events below with joining details.

Listening to City Carer’s event – Friday 23rd April: An opportunity for Carer’s to provide feedback on their experience of Health and Social Care.

Overview: This group is for all unpaid carers who live in the City of London. We would love to hear from young carers too, if you know a young carer please let them know about this forum.

Time: 14:00 – 15:00

Joining details: 

Meeting ID: 916 6317 3054 Passcode: 994555 Dial in: 0203 481 5240

Healthwatch City of London Drop-in session – Thursday 29th April: An opportunity for residents, workers and students to raise issues about their experience of Health and Social care with the staff of Healthwatch.

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Joining details:

Meeting ID: 912 3142 6174 Passcode: 772639 Dial in: 0203 481 5237 United Kingdom

Mental Health and Wellbeing Focus Group – Friday 30th April: An opportunity for residents workers, students and service providers to discuss mental health provision in the City of London, identifying access issues and any gaps in service provision.

Time: 15:00 – 16:00

Joining details:

Meeting ID: 918 7411 1747 Passcode: 276063 Dial in: 0203 481 5240 United Kingdom

Future dates for your diary.

Listening to City Carers Group – Friday 21st May 11:00 – 12:00

Drop-in session – Thursday 27th May 14:00 – 16:00

Hearing loss and Dementia

Did you know that someone who has unaddressed moderate hearing loss is three times more likely to develop dementia later in life?

Please see attached a document produced by the RNID about the link between Hearing Loss & Dementia. Healthwatch City of London is currently researching levels of hearing and auditory service provision across the City.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

Latest Covid-19 statistics for the City of London.

The joint City and Hackney Public Health Intelligence Team produce regular statistics on Covid-19 levels in the City. The site is updated regularly and accessible at.

Dragon Café in the City

The next virtual Dragon Café in the City session – taking place on Wednesday 21 April on Zoom.

The award-winning Dragon Café in the City is free and open to anyone working or living in the City and provides a (virtual) space for them to release the pressure, try something new, and engage in creative activities designed to foster positive mental and physical wellbeing.

Next week’s programme includes:

  • Work-Life balance coaching
  • Self-massage
  • Yoga
  • Reading Friends Group

The programme can be found online here.

Keep up to date with the latest advice

HWCoL are constantly updating our advice and information pages. Please make sure you visit them regularly.

Get in touch with Healthwatch City of London.

Visit our website for more information, news and events, have your say about your care, and spread the word about Healthwatch City of London. email:

Tel: 020 3745 9563 Facebook: Twitter: @HealthwatchCoL

Portsoken Health and Community Centre, 14-16 Little Somerset Street, London E1 8AH

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place across the country.

In England:

  • Only socialise indoors with people you live with or who are in your support bubble
  • Up to 6 people or 2 households can meet outside
  • Work from home if you can and minimise travel
  • If you have symptoms get a test and stay at home