Non-urgent appointments have been cancelled until further notice
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is asking members of the public not to go to its hospitals at Hemel Hempstead, St Albans or Watford.
There are just two exceptions; the nominated birth partner during labour and the postnatal stay; and one parent/guardian for paediatric patients.
Asking people to stay away will help to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and reflects government advice: Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
The hospital trust is still seeing urgent and two week wait outpatient appointments but all non urgent activity including planned surgery, other outpatient appointments and telephone consultations have ceased with immediate effect.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael van der Watt said: “We have not taken this step lightly. Our focus right now is to provide care to our sickest patients.
"To do this, we need to move our clinical staff from their planned work so that we have enough nurses and doctors to care for those with the greatest need.
“We’re keeping a careful record of all the procedures and appointments that were planned and we will ensure that patients who need to be seen, will be – in due course.
"All of our staff are part of our whole team effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and so we are asking that patients hold off from calling us at this busy time.
"As soon as we are able to, we will provide more information on our website or via an email or letter.”
The unprecedented times have seen incredible kindness. Sofia Sheikh, the director of Raise, the hospital trust’s charity, said: “So many wonderful offers of help have come our way including some delicious treats for our hard-working staff.
"These have been much appreciated but due to the need to keep our hospitals free of visitors, we are now asking that all donations must be arranged in advance.
“We are also keen to build up a fund so that we can support the wellbeing of our frontline staff over the months ahead.
"By making a donation now, we can find ways to support staff later, when we will need to boost their resilience.”
Anyone who wishes to help by giving a donation or volunteering their time can find out more on the hospital's charity website.