Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here you can find both our regular FAQ and those relating to changes under the Coronavirus Pandemic. Please check the below thoroughly before you contact the Trust about a matter.

If you do need to contact us, you can do so via one of the telephone numbers below:

To make/change or cancel an appointment: 0121 507 4151
Sandwell and City Hospitals: 0121 554 3801
Birmingham Midland Eye Centre (BMEC) : 0121 507 4440
Rowley Regis Hospital: 0121 507 6300
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS): 0121 507 5836
The NHS Appointments line: 0345 608 8888
Maternity: 0121 507 5923

For life-threatening emergencies, always dial 999
Please dial 111 if you seek urgent medical assistant but it is not a 999 emergency.

Coronavirus FAQ
Please find below specific additional guidance about Trust functions during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Where can I find more information about the Coronavirus / COVID-19?
For the latest updates and advice regarding the Coronavirus pandemic please click here.

Be sure to follow the Trust’s social media accounts for additional information and updates. You can do so on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Trust also operates accounts on YouTube and LinkedIn

What are the current visiting restrictions?

In order to help keep both our staff and patients safe we have had to restrict access to our buildings. All entries are closed and access is only granted to the following people:

  • Patients with booked appointments.
  • Patients with emergency healthcare needs.
  • Staff attending for work.
  • Approved visitors: No visiting apart from one person for children, end of life patients, those who lack mental capacity and birthing partners.
  • Approved and essential contractors and suppliers.

If you are not in these groups please do not come to any of our facilities.

Relatives are able to speak to their loved ones who are currently in hospital via phone or video link. To contact your relatives please telephone the relevant ward.

What if I have an outpatient appointment?
Most routine outpatient appointments are now taking place by telephone or video phone. Your appointment will still take place but someone will telephone you instead. We will let you know if you need to be seen in person. For appointment queries please call our contact centre on 0121 507 4151.
(Volunteers) I would like to help as a 2020 Response Volunteer - how do I apply?
If you are interested in become a ‘2020 Response Volunteer‘ to assist the Trust during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, helping take on tasks that will support our frontline staff, whilst they care for our patients, you can find out how to volunteer here.

For a guide to the 2020 Response Volunteer role please click here.

You can also sign up to help in your local area with the GoodSAM Responder app – find out more here.
The app can be downloaded for iOS and Android.

(BMEC) What if I have an urgent eye condition? What if I require an injection?

Eye Casualty: If you are showing Coronavirus symptoms and have an urgent eye condition that requires emergency assistance please do not attend BMEC, but dial our nurse-led central phone line: 0121 507 4440.

Eye Casualty at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre remains open and is seeing patients.

Any contact lens wearer who is experiencing eye pain, redness and reduced vision that doesn’t settle or gets worse over a 24 hours period must attend Eye Casualty. Anyone who has previously had corneal transplant surgery and is experiencing such symptoms should call the BMEC central helpline.

Injections: IVT injections have continued throughout the COVID-19 crisis due to the importance that these patients receive this treatment to avoid irreversible sight loss.

If you are due to have an appointment related to receiving an injection please do attend.

For any general inquiries please call the BMEC helpline on 0121 507 4440.

Attending BMEC: In order to maintain safety for both patients and staff we have in place across Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Trust various social distancing measures.

These include:

• Only having essential face to face contacts – lots of general consultations across the Trust have become virtual, either taking place via phone or video call

• Restricting visiting to reduce the number of people in the hospital (please see separate guidance on this).

• Screening patients for symptoms of COVID-19 when they enter the eye hospital –patients who report COVID-19 symptoms are seen in isolation, using separate facilities.

• Patients are offered masks on entry. These are a requirement to access the site.

• Patients are asked to sanitise their hands on entry, and throughout their time in the hospital. You will find dispensers on the walls throughout the building.

• Some areas of seating have been temporarily removed or taped off to enhance social distancing.

Please abide by any guidance supplied when on our sites, all measures are necessary to keep facilities and services operational and are for the benefit of everyone.

Concerns

If you’re concerned about attending your hospital eye clinic appointment during coronavirus, the RNIB has created a short film. It features three Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs) offering their tips on how to prepare, what to bring and what you might expect to happen when you arrive, along with alternatives to attending in person.  Additional information can be found here.

(Your Trust Charity) I would like to donate to help support the hospital at this time. How do I do that?
We have set up an emergency text to donate appeal for support – please find further details below. The Your Trust Charity appeal can also be supported online through https://www.justgiving.com/swbh

We would be very grateful indeed if you could consider helping our staff at this difficult time and share our request for support.

I am now in recovery - what should I do?

Recovery from COVID-19 will take time. The length of time needed will vary from person to person and it is important not to compare yourself to others. Ongoing symptoms could last for several months after you contract COVID-19 and this can be perfectly normal.

An information pack is also given to patients who leave our care after being tested positive for COVID-19, or with COVID-19 symptoms who are awaiting a test result. This pack describes how to manage symptoms such as breathlessness, guidance on isolation, managing stress and anxiety and who to contact for help. Click here to read.

Our NHS colleagues at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have produced a patient support website offering advice and guidance on your recovery journey. Here you can find information about what you can do to make recovery easier for yourself, both physically and mentally.

There is also a centralised NHS website Supporting your recovery after COVID-19.

(Phlebotomy) Can I still go to a blood test walk-in?
Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic all blood tests are currently by appointment only.

Go to http://www.swbh.nhs.uk/services/blood-tests/ for more information.

(Theatres) Are you still doing surgery?

We are contacting all patients with planned procedures that we need to change. We continue to do urgent surgery and surgery for patients on two week wait pathways.

(Multiple) How are cancer treatments affected?

We are continuing to provide services for two week wait referrals – both for diagnosis and the treatment of cancer – with some cases being carried out at different sites, including in local private hospitals.  GPs have been given updated guidance to ensure patients are given access to clinic or telephone reviews and onward investigations as appropriate.

We have also set up a helpline for patients and carers to contact us with any questions they may have around their cancer diagnosis and the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The number, for non-urgent enquiries, is 0121 507 3817 and is available from 10am until 2pm.

Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment and have queries can call their treatment unit or the 24-hour emergency hospital helpline (Acute Oncology Service) on 07976 499140.

(Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia) How should I acquire my medicines?

We know this is an extremely worrying time. The Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia (SCaT) Centre\ will ask you if your medications can be collected by a trusted party for you.  If this is not possible, they will arrange courier delivery.

You can contact the centre on 0121 07 6040.

(Imaging) How are scans and x-rays affected?
For both patient and staff safety, we have prioritised diagnostic investigations for urgent cases and cancer related diagnostics with other non-urgent cases postponed and rescheduled. GPs practices have been informed of any affected patients. If you have any queries please contact your GP.
My child appears ill, what should I do?

Whilst Coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child is unwell it is likely to be a non-Coronavirus illness, rather than Coronavirus itself. If they require urgent or emergency treatment do not let this be a barrier to bringing them to hospital, we continue to take care of patients young and old outside of the pandemic. As do GPs and NHS 111.

Click here for some additional guidance on steps to take if your child needs medical care.

(Mental Health) I'm struggling mentally with the everything. Who should I call?

It is only natural, with all that has been occurring, to experience some stress and anxiety. Particularly when you are isolating for long periods of time and are unable to do your usual activities.

If you do find that your mental health is being affected by the implications of Coronavirus, then please don’t suffer in silence. The Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have launched a new, 24/7 helpline which is open to residents of all ages across the Black Country and will give access to urgent mental health, learning disability and/or autism support.

The helpline is staffed by specialist mental health colleagues who will provide advice and can also direct you to other mental health services if these are required.

Please do not think you are alone. It is okay to not be okay – and if you aren’t, then please do pick up the phone and speak to someone.

New Freephone number for 24/7 mental health helpline

People living in the Black Country now have easier access to a specialist mental health helpline with the introduction of a new freephone number.

The NHS mental health crisis helpline is run by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages – including children and young people.

Particularly suited to those who feel like they need urgent help, the helpline is manned by specialist mental health staff that will provide advice, support and signposting over the phone.

People can access the 24/7 freephone number by calling 0800 008 6516.

Alongside those in crisis, for more common mental health problems such as low mood, depression, anxiety and stress people can self-refer to Healthy Minds / Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.

Dudley Talking Therapies 0800 953 0404 http://www.dwmh.nhs.uk/dudley-talking-therapy-service/
Sandwell Healthy Minds 0303 033 9903 https://www.sandwellhealthyminds.nhs.uk/
Walsall Talking Therapies 0800 953 0995 http://www.dwmh.nhs.uk/walsall-talking-therapies-service/
Wolverhampton Healthy Minds 0800 923 0222 or 01902 441 856 https://www.wolverhamptonhealthyminds.nhs.uk/ ​​​​​​​

Existing service users are encouraged to maintain their existing service contacts. 

(Audiology) How do hearing aid patients get repairs/replacements under COVID-19?

We are offering a postal service for batteries, replacement tubes and hearing aid repairs. Please use this option rather than attending the clinic. For patients requiring a face to face appointment, we will be offering booked repair appointments from 15th June 2020. Please phone 0121 507 4875 (Hearing Services Centre/James Preston Health Centre) or 0121 612 2366 (Audiology, Lyng Health Centre) to speak to an Audiologist about this option.

Please note: Walk-in clinics are not available at present.

Batteries and Tubes

Please contact us by email swb-tr.audiology@nhs.net to request replacements. Include your name, address and date of birth in your email. You can also request by phone on 0121 507 4875 (Hearing Services Centre/James Preston Health Centre) or 0121 612 2366 (Audiology, Lyng Health Centre).

Hearing Aid Repairs

Please post your hearing aid to us by recorded delivery, with a note explaining the problem. Alternatively a family member or friend could drop off the aid at the clinic as long as they are well and are not supposed to be self-isolating or household-isolating. We will return the aid to you by post.

For postal repairs:

Hearing Services Centre
City Hospital
Dudley Road
Birmingham
B18 7QH

Audiology
Lyng Health Centre
Frank Fisher Way
West Bromwich
B70 7AW

(Discharges) I'm being/been discharged - what should I do now?

Recovery from COVID-19 will take time. The length of time needed will vary from person to person and it is important not to compare yourself to others. Ongoing symptoms could last for several months after you contract COVID-19 and this can be perfectly normal.

Our NHS colleagues at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have produced a patient support website offering advice and guidance on your recovery journey. Here you can find information about what you can do to make recovery easier for yourself, both physically and mentally.An information pack is also given to patients who leave our care after being tested positive for COVID-19, or with COVID-19 symptoms who are awaiting a test result. This pack describes how to manage symptoms such as breathlessness, guidance on isolation, managing stress and anxiety and who to contact for help. Click here to read.

(Trust Board) Are the public Trust Board meetings still taking place?

Due to the current Pandemic, our Board meeting on the 4th June 2020, which would usually take place in public, is being held remotely. Members of the public are welcome to submit questions that will be read out and answered during the Board meeting. The reply will be emailed to the questioner.  Please send in your question to swbh.comms@nhs.net by the Tuesday prior to the Thursday Board meeting. Please use “Trust Board Meeting Question” in the subject heading of your email.

For those who wish to still view the meeting as it happens, a viewing has been arranged in Room 14 of the Education Centre at Sandwell General Hospital. 

(Maternity) I am expecting a baby, what should I do?

We understand that you will be worried about what Coronavirus means for you and your baby and we are doing all we can to help keep you, your baby and your family safe.

We are following updated guidelines on your appointments to ensure you continue to have the maternity care you need while reducing the risk from contacting Coronavirus. This means that you may have fewer face-to-face visits with your midwife and some of your appointments may be over the phone including your first booking appointment.

It is still very important that you attend any face–to-face appointments if you are requested to do so or take part in any telephone appointments. If you have a high temperature or a new persistent cough please ring for advice before you attend a face-to-face appointment.

If you need to attend hospital for an appointment (including for a scan) you will need to attend alone. No visitors are allowed on any of our antenatal or postnatal wards including the baby’s father. One birth partner is allowed during birth, but this must be the same person throughout and they will need to leave two hours following the baby being born.

If your baby is admitted to the Neonatal Unit one parent is allowed to visit and we ask that person to bring food etc. with them (the staff will heat it up for you if need be) to minimise the number of times you enter and leave the unit. Please follow the instructions on washing your hands before entering and leaving the unit. We have introduced a new system called vCreate which is an NHS Trusted Secure Video Messaging service that enables the nursing team to send you short videos and photos of your child, during those times when you’re unable to be on the unit.

Read our leaflet below for more information:

You can find a rundown of the modified maternity pathway here.

You can contact the SWBH Maternity Coronavirus information team via email: swbh.maternitycovid@nhs.net

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a specific enquiry, please check the questions below. If your question is not featured below, please submit your query using the contact form below. We aim to respond within five working days.

Where can I find more information about the Coronavirus / COVID-19?
For the latest updates and advice regarding the Coronavirus pandemic please click here.

Be sure to follow the Trust’s social media accounts for additional information and updates. You can do so on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Trust also operates accounts on YouTube and LinkedIn

How do I access my medical records?
Gaining access to your medical records (such as, x-rays, time of birth, details on past treatments) is a legal procedure. To start the legal process, please contact our Governance Support Unit via the following email address: swb-tr.swbhrecordsrequests@nhs.net or write to the following department: Governance Support Unit, DGM Building, City Hospital, Dudley Rd, Birmingham, B18 7QH.

 

If you are after access to your GP note an additional way to see these is via the NHS app. Find out more about this here.

 

I wish to cancel or change my appointment. How do I do this?
I have mislaid details of my appointment, can you tell me when it is?
For appointment queries in the first instance please call the relevant telephone number on your letter or (for outpatient appointments only) call our contact centre on 0121 507 4151. Alternatively you can complete the form at https://www.swbh.nhs.uk/contact-locations/change-your-appointment/
What is BMEC's new number?
As of the week commencing 17/02/20 for all BMEC queries please dial 0121 507 4440.
What are the blood test opening times?
For more information about our blood tests, go to http://www.swbh.nhs.uk/services/blood-tests/

PLEASE NOTE: Owing to Coronavirus pandemic all blood tests are currently by appointment only.

I would like to carry out a condition check on a patient being treated at one of your hospitals
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide information about the admittance or condition of any patients in our hospitals due to the Data Protection Act
I used to work at the Trust and would like to access information on the training I received?
Please contact Learning and Development on 0121 507 6140. Please note this information is only kept for seven years
I would like to find out more how to donate to Your Trust Charity
For more information about our charity, go to https://www.swbh.nhs.uk/charity/
Does the Trust refund travel costs?
Anyone on a low income who is entitled to benefits or receives income support can claim for reimbursement of bus fare or receive a token to allow free exit from hospital car parks. Please bring proof of your benefits to one of the following places:
• Birmingham Treatment Centre reception
• Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre general office
• City Hospital Cash Office (ground floor, main corridor, near the Medical Assessment Unit)
• Sandwell General Hospital main reception
• Rowley Regis Hospital main reception
What are the opening times for the walk-in X-ray service?
A walk-in X-ray service is available at Sandwell Hospital, City Hospital, and at the Birmingham Treatment Centre, based at City Hospital. Opening times are Monday-Friday, 9am to 4.30pm. (Walk-in services are closed on Bank Holidays.)
I would like to arrange work experience at your hospitals, how do I go about this?
We receive a high volume of requests for work experience. To submit your request, please email swb-tr.SWBH-GM-WorkExperienceEnquiries@nhs.net and someone from the Learning and Development team will contact you
I would like to work at your Trust, how do I find out what jobs you have available?
Please visit https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/ for a full list of vacancies at our Trust.

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Please note: The Communications Team has no direct access to patient records. For appointment cancellations and rearrangements or enquiries of that nature please see the sections above for more information.