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During your stay in hospital

Life on the ward

The hospital day can begin early, with scheduled tests and/or investigations/operations commencing at 8.00am. During ward rounds, patients are seen by the medical staff working with their consultant. If you or your relatives would like to speak to the consultant privately, please ask your nurse who will give you contact details so you can arrange an appointment. If you are uncomfortable or in pain, please let the staff know.

Never be worried about using the call bell beside your bed: your safety is our main concern, so please use the call bell if you need to.

Privacy and dignity

Papworth Hospital realises the importance of privacy and dignity to its patients and supports the Department of Health initiative to eradicate mixed-sex accommodation. All inpatients are nursed in single-sex wards or in single-sex bays (with doors): the only exceptions being Critical Care and the High Dependency Units. All patient toilet and bathroom areas are single-sex.

Preventing Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

VTE is caused by the formation of blood clots - most commonly in a form called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in your leg or pelvis. It can result in pain and swelling, and if part of the clot breaks off and lodges in the arteries that supply the lungs, can result in pulmonary embolism (PE), which causes coughing (with blood-stained phlegm), chest pain and breathlessness. VTE requires immediate treatment: if you develop any of these symptoms, either in hospital or after discharge, please seek medical advice immediately.

Admission to hospital can increase a patient’s risk of developing VTE as inpatients tend to lie or sit still for long periods of time. On admission, and again as necessary during your stay, you will be assessed for your VTE risk. Most patients admitted to Papworth Hospital are given preventative treatment as a matter of routine unless this is for some reason inappropriate. You may be given exercises to perform, special support stockings to wear, and/or anticoagulant medicine (‘blood thinners’).

There are also ways in which you yourself can reduce your risk of VTE:

  • Try to get up and walk about as soon as possible and as much as possible -the physiotherapists and nurses will help you with this in the early stages of your recovery.

  • Unless you are placed on a fluid-restricted regime, drink plenty of fluid to keep hydrated.

  • Try to remember not to sit or lie with your legs crossed. The nurses will remind you!

As with all aspects of your stay, if you have any queries or concerns, please ask a member of staff.

Papworth Hospital provides important teaching facilities for clinical staff. You may be asked to allow students to be involved in your care. We hope you will give your permission if your co-operation is requested, but you are under no obligation to do so and should you decline, your treatment will not be affected in any way.

Fire alarm

The fire alarm makes a loud, continuous sound. On hearing the alarm you are advised to return to your bed area. Patients will be given instructions and/or assistance to evacuate the building by one of the nursing staff if the need arises. In some areas an intermittent alarm may sound - this indicates a fire in another part of the building.

Around the site

The nature of the site here at Papworth Hospital means that patients may sometimes be transported by ambulance from one part of the hospital to another.


Papworth Hospital has introduced a minimal lifting policy in order to reduce the risk of injury to its staff.

Wherever possible, when a patient needs lifting, for example to change their position in bed or into the bath, an appropriate lifting aid or hoist will be used.

Meals and diets

The hospital will provide you with a choice of meals from a healthy, well-balanced menu, with vegetarian options always available. The menu includes dishes selected from the Better Hospital Food Directive and inspired by leading chefs.

If you have a particular dietary requirement, it would be helpful if, on admission to the ward, you would let the nurse in charge of the ward know this. Some of the food used in the hospital may contain ingredients produced from genetically modified soya and/or maize and some of the meals may contain nuts. If, after admission, you require a special diet, we will advise you of this and you will be visited by the dietician.

Patients are given a menu to choose from and we hope you will find something to your liking, but you are also welcome to ask for an omelette or sandwich. Snacks are served on the wards every afternoon and evening and additional meals may be ordered at all times from the ‘All Hours’ menu.

Patients who would like to use the Garden Restaurant are welcome to do so. Please let ward staff know your whereabouts. Usually you will have to pay for food in the restaurant but in some circumstances might be given a ticket by the ward, entitling you to a meal from the ‘Hospitality’ menu.

The restaurant is open from 7.30am - 7.00pm, seven days a week.

  • Lunch is served from noon to 2.00pm

  • Supper is served from 5.30pm to 7.00pm

Please be aware that Papworth Hospital has only one restaurant and it is used by staff, patients and visitors. As staff have limited time for meals, they are sometimes given priority during very busy periods.

Patients’ own food

As part of its responsibility to its patients, the hospital is committed to ensuring that patients receive a healthy diet and that food is safely stored, prepared and served in accordance with legislation and other standards. We understand that sometimes relatives and friends might want to bring food gifts or that you might ask for food to be brought in to you. People who are unwell or recovering from surgery are more prone than usual to gastric infections, and even food seen as low-risk for food-poisoning (such as sweets, fruit and biscuits) can in some cases interact with medication or go against dietary advice a patient has been given. We therefore ask that you always seek advice from the nurse in charge before bringing in, or eating, brought-in food.

Where appropriate, food will need to be clearly labelled with the patient’s name and the date, and be placed in the ward fridge by the housekeeping staff. Two information sheets are available for patients/relatives who wish to bring food in - please ask the nurse for these.

The hospital cannot be held responsible for any illness or adverse effect arising from food brought in for patients from outside the hospital. It can only accept responsibility for food provided by its own catering department.

The Chaplaincy Service - pastoral and spiritual care

The hospital employs a whole-time chaplain, who is supported by a local Roman Catholic Priest, and by a chaplaincy assistant and a small team of chaplaincy volunteers. They visit all the wards regularly and have local contacts for all the major faiths and denominations.

The chaplain’s work is to care for your spiritual, religious and pastoral needs. This can be anything from helping you to follow your religious tradition to listening to your experience of being in hospital and offering comfort and support.

The chaplaincy service is available to all patients, relatives, and staff, of any faith or denomination or none. Your own religious representative is welcome to visit you during your stay.

Please contact the chaplaincy service on 01480 364121 if you have any queries or special requirements or would like further information. The chaplains endeavour to provide a full ‘On Call’ service; please contact the switchboard if you need to contact a chaplain urgently or in an emergency.

If you would specifically like to see the chaplain, you can ask your named nurse, or fill in a request slip from the chaplaincy leaflet available on the ward, or phone 01480 364121 and leave a message on the answer phone.

You could also request this via PALS - simply press the PALS button on the bedside phone. If you are requesting this in advance of your admission, you might prefer to send an email to, or to telephone as above.

The chaplaincy building is easy to find, being located near the restaurant. It consists of the chapel, the chaplain’s office and the sanctuary. The sanctuary is divided into a multi-faith area (with artefacts for prayer) and a rest area for relatives. The facility is usually open between 8.00am and 8.00pm; if you require access outside of these times, please contact the switchboard.

A service of Holy Communion is held on Thursdays at 10.00am. For Holy days and special occasions, please see the chapel notice board for details or ask a member of staff. The Christian Sacraments of Communion and of the Anointing of the Sick at the bedside are available on request.


There is a regular delivery of post to the wards. Please ask your friends and relatives to address your letters and parcels clearly (in block capitals) with the name, (initials and surname), and the ward and/or unit to avoid delay.

For example:
CB23 3RE


If relatives and friends wish to make enquiries about you, they should telephone the hospital on 01480 830541 and ask for the appropriate ward, or phone the ward direct.

Where a number of calls are likely to be made asking after you - such as perhaps after an operation - it would be helpful to ward staff if one person would telephone for information and then pass it on to the others.

Mobile telephones

In most circumstances, use of mobile phones to make and receive calls and texts is allowed on the wards, but please check with the nursing staff before using your phone. Mobile phone use is never permitted in Critical Care, Theatres and the High Dependency Unit.

In order to help protect the privacy and dignity of all our patients, you are asked never to use your mobile phone’s camera, voice recording or video functions or any other device for recording or photography in the ward or in any other clinical area.

Visitors are asked to use their mobile phones only in non-clinical areas such as day-rooms, the restaurant, and the hospital grounds. Please be aware that the mobile phone signal across the hospital site is variable and often very weak.


Television sets are provided on all wards and in some individual rooms. Please try to keep the noise level down to avoid disturbing other patients. Videos are available on some wards if you would like a change of viewing - please ask your nurse.

Hospital grounds

Patients and visitors are most welcome to stroll in our pleasant hospital grounds. If you do leave the ward, please let the ward staff know where you are going.

Please note that the pond is deep and the swan is sometimes aggressive. Children should be closely supervised.


Papworth Hospital is a no-smoking hospital. Smoking is not permitted anywhere within the hospital buildings or grounds.


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