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 wellbeing to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19. Signpost to charities (such as Crohn's & Colitis UK, the British Liver Trust, the Crohn's in Childhood Research Association, and the Children's Liver Disease Foundation), support groups (including NHS Volunteer Responders) and UK government guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19.

1.2 Provide patients, their families and carers with information that meets their communication needs (see NHS England's Accessible Information Standard).

1.3 Some patients will have received a letter telling them they are at high risk of severe illness from COVID‑19. Tell them, or their parents or carers:

1.4 Telephone, email or text patients booked for a gastroenterology or hepatology appointment, or their parents or carers. Tell them:

  • not to stop or change their medication without discussing with their gastroenterology or hepatology team first

  • that they can continue taking aminosalicylates, and that these drugs do not affect the immune response

  • to write down a list of the medicines they take and any conditions they have, to give to healthcare staff if they need to seek treatment for COVID‑19

  • that if they have been advised to self-isolate they should follow the UK government stay at home advice for households with possible coronavirus infection.

1.5 Minimise face-to-face contact by:

  • using telephone, video or email consultations whenever possible

  • cutting non-essential face-to-face appointments

  • contacting patients via text message, telephone or email

  • using electronic prescriptions rather than paper

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

  • extending intervals between drug monitoring (see recommendation 2.8 in the section on treatment considerations) and using local services for blood tests if possible.

1.6 If patients need to attend face-to-face appointments, ask them to help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading 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.

1.7 Tell patients who still need to attend services to follow relevant parts of government advice on social distancing (this differs across the UK) and UK government advice on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

1.8 Tell patients, and their families and carers, that they should contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if they think they have COVID‑19. In an emergency they should call 999 if they are seriously ill. They should also contact their gastroenterology or hepatology team to get advice about any drugs they are taking that affect the immune response.