BARNSLEY Hospital has announced new arrangements in its emergency department which will help to protect staff and patients amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The arrangements include a new system to separate suspected COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients.

Upon their arrival to the emergency department, all patients will receive an initial assessment.

Patients will then either be directed to the area dedicated to support patients with coronavirus symptoms via the existing emergency department entrance, assessed by the consultant, and if possible be sent home without having to enter the hospital; or directed to a new entrance to a completely separate emergency department area dedicated for patients who are not showing signs of coronavirus.

This change applies to both children and adult emergency care.

Due to the changes, visitors arriving at the hospital who do not require the emergency department will be required to use the hospital’s main entrance.

Patients who require other types of emergency treatment are asked to use the physiotherapy area which is accessible via a separate, sign-posted entrance.

Cars will no longer be able to access the area in front of the emergency department and ambulances will use dedicated, separate entrances for bringing in the two different types of patient groups.

Due to the changes within the emergency department, all women accessing maternity services, including the Barnsley Birthing Centre, are asked to use the ‘O Block’ entrance which is accessible at all times.

Women will still be required to call before attending the Barnsley Birthing Centre as normal, however on an evening and over the weekend the external doors will be locked and access will be provided via the intercom system.

All persons who enter the birthing centre will be asked about any potential COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the building and all birthing partners are required to have their temperature recorded to ensure it is below 37.7 degrees prior to entry to maternity services. This is to protect all mothers, babies and staff.

Emergency department consultant Dr David Walker, said: “It’s really important that people coming to hospital pay attention to our new arrangements at our emergency department.

“We understand people are anxious when they come into hospital and this new way of working will enable us to focus separately on patients who need specific support in relation to coronavirus and on those who need more general emergency department support.

“At the same time, it’s also crucial to remember we all have a part to play in looking after our own health. Please only come to the hospital if it’s essential.”