1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1.1 Communicate with patients, their families and carers, and support their mental health and wellbeing to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19. Signpost to sources of online information (such as the British Association of Dermatologists' patient hub), support groups (including NHS Volunteer Responders) and UK government guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19

1.2 Some patients will have received a letter telling them they are at high risk of severe illness from COVID‑19. Tell them, or their parent or carer, to follow the advice on shielding in UK government advice on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

1.3 Telephone, email or send a text message to patients booked for a dermatology appointment, or their parents or carers. Tell them that if they have been advised to self-isolate they should follow the UK government stay at home advice for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. They should:

  • not attend their appointment

  • contact the dermatology department for advice on their ongoing care.

1.4 Minimise face-to-face contact by:

  • avoiding non-essential face-to-face consultations

  • using electronic prescriptions rather than paper

  • using different methods to deliver prescriptions and medicines, for example, postal services, NHS Volunteer Responders or drive-through pick-up points for medicines

  • contacting patients via text message, telephone or email

  • optimising the use of teledermatology, such as telephone and video consultations

  • making use of departmental pages on local NHS trust websites, which should include FAQs on COVID‑19 if possible

  • extending intervals between drug monitoring (see recommendation 3.3 in the section on treatment considerations) and using local services for blood tests if possible.

1.5 If patients need to attend face-to-face appointments, ask them to help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading infection with COVID‑19 by:

  • coming to the appointment alone

  • having only 1 parent or carer accompany a child or adult who cannot come alone

  • avoiding public transport if possible.

1.6 Tell patients, or their families and carers, that they should contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or call NHS 111 if they don't have internet access, if they think they have COVID‑19. In an emergency they should call 999 if they are seriously ill. They should also inform their dermatology team, to get advice about their immunosuppressive therapies.

1.7 Advise patients, or their parents or carers, to write down a list of the medicines they take and the conditions they have, to give to healthcare staff if they need to seek treatment for COVID‑19.

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