1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1.1 Communicate with patients and support their mental wellbeing, signposting to charities and support groups (such as ARMA, which has a list of relevant organisations, and NHS Volunteer Responders) where available, to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19.

1.2 Minimise face-to-face contact by:

  • cutting non-essential face-to-face consultations

  • offering telephone or video consultations

  • contacting patients via text message or email

  • making use of departmental pages on local NHS trust websites

  • using rheumatology department advice services, including out-of-hours services, and thinking about a shared approach with other NHS trusts

  • using alternative ways to deliver medicines, such as postal services, NHS volunteers or drive through pick-up points

  • expanding community-based blood monitoring services, where possible.

1.3 Advise patients to contact:

  • NHS 111 by phone or via the website for advice on COVID‑19

  • their rheumatology team about any rheumatological medicines issues or if their condition worsens (or NHS 111 or primary care services, if this is not possible).

1.4 Tell patients who still need to attend services to follow relevant parts of government advice on social distancing (this differs across the UK) or UK government guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. [amended 21 May 2020]