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Coronavirus: NHS bosses ditch parking charges at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Parking charges at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow will be axed from April 1 in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The NHS trust which runs the Hamstel Road hospital announced the first death of a patient from the Covid-19 contagion on Monday (March 23) and has introduced new measures to safeguard the sick by limiting visitors.

Its 3,500 staff care for a core population of about 350,000 people in West Essex and East Hertfordshire, centred on the M11 corridor and the towns of Bishop's Stortford, Harlow and Epping, but the extended catchment incorporates 500,000 patients.

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.GVs.Gate 1 - Hamstel Road entrance. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (32371727)
Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.GVs.Gate 1 - Hamstel Road entrance. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (32371727)

The Princess Alexandra has 414 general and acute beds and a 24/7 emergency department, an intensive care unit, a maternity unit and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The new visiting rules are:

* No visitors except in exceptional circumstances in agreement with the nurse in charge;

* When visiting, pull privacy curtains to halfway as a sensible precaution to aid social distancing;

* Maternity – only one birthing partner with no other visitors; and

* Children's appointments – one parent or carer.

The advice from the trust, which is also responsible for Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop's Stortford and St Margaret's Hospital in Epping, is unequivocal: "If you are concerned you may have coronavirus (Covid-19), do not come to our hospitals or visit the emergency department. Instead, please call NHS 111."

The trust is urging patients not to attend its accident and emergency department unless they have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury.

The management team advises those with concerns to contact NHS 111, urgent treatment centres, their GP or pharmacy instead.

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