Coronavirus (Covid-19) recovery and advice for high risk and vulnerable patients

Recovery from coronavirus 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.

Advice for cancer patients


Maintaining patient safety is a priority and changes may be necessary as the situation evolves. For example, your specialist teams may encourage phone consultation rather than seeing you in person, to minimise any risk to you.

Protect yourself

Stay up to date with the latest guidance:

If you have symptoms of coronavirus

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the NHS 111 online tool for advice on what to do. You should also speak to the hospital department responsible for your care.

Bringing relatives to appointments

We appreciate this is a difficult time so if you have any concerns, please speak to the nurse in charge on the day of your appointment.

Risk to previous cancer patients

Most people make a full recovery after cancer treatment and their immune system either recovers fully or is not affected. But the type of cancer and the treatment you have had may increase your risk from coronavirus.

If you are taking hormone tablets or injections for cancer, you are at no more risk of contracting coronavirus. You should continue your medication and take the appropriate hand washing measures.

Find out more about the risks of coronavirus to cancer patients (opens in new window) >

Advice if you are pregnant

For information for pregnant women see Maternity services post coronavirus pandemic > 


If you have symptoms of coronavirus, we advise that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk.

However, you should take the following precautions:

  • wash your hands before you touch your baby, your breast pump or any bottles
  • avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while you breastfeed
  • clean your breast pump after every use

Whatever method of feeding, consider asking someone who is well to feed your baby. If you are breastfeeding, you can express your milk so someone else can bottle feed.

Your baby’s movements matter

If you notice that your baby is not moving or the movements have changed or reduced, you still need to call the hospital you are booked to give birth at immediately. Even if you think you may have Covid-19 symptoms you must contact the hospital and we will arrange for you to be seen in an isolation area to check you and your baby are healthy. Do not wait for your next midwife appointment.

Advice if you take immunosuppressive medication

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, you should call NHS 111 and  follow national coronavirus guidance (opens in new window) >.

The doctors and nurses at UHDB strongly recommend that all patients are fully vaccinated if at all possible.

You may be eligible for additional vaccines, including the Spring 2023 Booster programme (opens in new window) >. Please check with your pharmacist/GP or specialist.

Many medications dampen down the immune system. This is called immunosuppressant treatment. If a patient is on immunosuppressant treatment then they will benefit from extra doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Patients must take evidence that they are on immunosuppressant medication when they attend for the vaccine.

Sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, allopurinol and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen are not immunosuppressants. If you are not sure if you are eligible then speak to your GP, pharmacist or Rheumatology advice service.


You should continue your immunosuppressive medication, including steroids, unless instructed otherwise by your clinician.

If you stop taking your medication, it could cause a flare up of your condition which could increase your risk of complications if you get coronavirus.

It is advisable to avoid using anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, to treat symptoms of possible coronavirus. If you have been taking these types of medications to treat a long term condition, there is no need to stop them if you remain well.

In cases where a infection of any kind is confirmed, it may be necessary to stop your immunosuppressive treatment for a time.

Risk from coronavirus

If you or your child continue to be at high risk from COVID-19, there are extra steps you can take to help reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 (opens in new window) > and keep yourself safe.

Treatments for Covid-19

The NHS is using new treatments for people who are considered at risk from severe Covid-19 (opens in new window) >, such as those on strong immunosuppressant treatment. You might be suitable for these treatments if a PCR or lateral flow test confirms that you have Covid-19. These treatments need to be given quickly after you start to feel unwell. They can help to stop you from getting seriously ill.

*Note: Make sure you have lateral flow test kits ready at home.

Advice to all patients

Outpatient appointments

Unless we have contacted you to cancel or rearrange your appointment, please attend as planned. Where possible, we may be able to offer you a phone call or digital appointment instead. If this is the case, we will let you know by phone or by post in advance.

You must not attend your appointment if you should be self-isolating because you, or somebody close to you, has, or has had, symptoms.

Advice for patients

If you have symptoms of coronavirus

  • Do not book an appointment or visit a GP surgery or hospital.
  • Follow specific public health advice and use NHS 111 online if your symptoms worsen.

All other patients

  • Contact your GP surgery if you need medical help.
  • Continue to attend appointments, unless you are contacted directly to advise otherwise, or if you have symptoms that require you to self-isolate.
  • If you are unable to attend an appointment due to self-isolation, you should contact the hospital through usual routes for advice on what to do.
  • If you have not been contacted directly by the team that manages your care to make any other arrangements at this point, you should plan to attend as normal.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying at home. Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

How can I protect myself and my family?

Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.