Information about the running of the West Midlands Cleft Service during the Covid-19 pandemic

To all our patients and families,

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are having to change the way that we run the cleft service. This is to minimise the risks of infection, and to make sure that the hospital can be available to treat as many patients as possible during this challenging time.

If you or your child has an urgent problem related to their cleft, we have good plans in place to ensure we can continue to help you. 

Surgery

All planned (elective) surgery has now been suspended at both Birmingham Children's Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

We are still performing surgery for emergencies and urgent cases, such as cancer, but we are not doing any cleft surgery at this time. This is because we need to ensure that NHS resources are available for the expected surges in patients with Covid-19.

If you/your child has a date for surgery please do not come/bring them to the hospital.

We do not yet know when we will be able to restart our elective surgery, but we will keep this page updated as we get further information. We are contacting all patients and families with upcoming surgery dates to let them know of cancellations, but this will take us up to a fortnight. If you/your child has a date for surgery in the next 2 weeks and you have not been contacted please contact the cleft team (contact details at the bottom of the page).

If you/your child has recently had cleft surgery and you are worried that there may be a problem related to the operation please call the cleft nurses Monday-Friday 9am-4pm. If it is an emergency and outside these hours please call the ward you/your child was on and ask for advice.

Please do not come straight to the hospital or A&E department; please speak to us first and we will be able to advise you. We are still providing treatment for you/your child if there is an emergency related to their cleft and if necessary, we can still see you/your child in the hospital and arrange admission if it is required. For your and your family’s safety we are trying to limit face-to-face contact and we will only bring you into the hospital if the problem cannot be managed at home.

If there is a large amount of bright red fresh blood from the nose or mouth, or you are concerned that your child may have a problem with their airway (they can't breathe in and out easily and seem distressed), call an ambulance using 999 as usual.

Out-patient clinics

These include all appointments with cleft and maxillofacial surgeons, ENT Cleft surgeons, hearing tests, orthodontics, dentists, psychology and speech and language therapists.

All face to face out-patients appointments have also been cancelled. Please do not come to the hospital if you have an appointment.

If you have an appointment next week and have not received a letter please do not come into the hospital; contact the cleft team (details at the bottom of the page).

If you are due to see a speech and language therapist you may receive advice and information by post or email.

Patients in orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances or retainers will receive a letter to explain who to contact in case of an emergency. We aim to keep in contact with our patients over the phone for updates and concerns. To be able to do that it’s important we have up to date phone number for our patients. If you think that we may not have the correct number to reach you on please email your telephone number along with the name and date of birth of the patient to bwc.cleftservices@nhs.net for children or jenniferdavis2@nhs.net for adults.

New babies

If you are pregnant or have just delivered your baby, congratulations! Welcome to the cleft service. 

If there are any urgent problems we will still be able to provide treatment, including admitting your child to the hospital if necessary. However, we need to limit face to face contacts to keep you and your family safe.  You will be contacted by one of our Cleft Nurse Specialists who will be able to provide advice and support.

Specialist bottles for feeding will be sent out via post and if your baby’s cleft has been diagnosed after birth, the nurses will be able to provide advice about how to feed your baby with an ordinary bottle until they arrive.

Contact details

As we continue to implement our pandemic preparations, replies to queries may take longer than usual. We hope this information answers any questions you may have. If you do still have any queries, you can contact us using the details below, preferably using email unless the query is urgent.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital

bwc.cleftservices@nhs.net

0121 333 8235 (Natalie Matthews - Cleft Service Manager)

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

jenniferdavis2@nhs.net

0121 371 4991 (Jennifer Davis – Cleft Team Secretary)

We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, and that we appreciate your patience and understanding during this time. The situation is changing rapidly and we will keep this page updated, including details of when surgery and out-patients will resume, as soon as this is available.