Ward visiting policy opens further to support patients and their families
The number of people who can visit a patient together in hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is being increased for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with new national guidance, two people will be able to visit a patient at their bedside, 24 hours after they have been admitted to a ward or assessment unit from Thursday, 17 March.
Visiting slots, which must still be booked in advance with ward teams, will also be increased from one hour to two hours. This allows visits to be staggered throughout the day and footfall to be managed safely and fairly on the wards.
This does not apply to visiting in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care, where more open visiting is in place. More flexible visiting for carers is also supported. Carers may stay with a patient as needed and be substituted by a visitor.
The Trust’s existing policy of up to three people being able to see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay still applies – only two out of the three visitors may visit the ward together though.
Anyone showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or anyone feeling unwell, should not visit ESNEFT hospitals. This is essential to help prevent the spread of any infection, not just COVID-19.
ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme said: “We hope this change to allow more people to visit the wards at one time – and for longer – will aid patients’ recoveries, by supporting their mental and physical health, and reassure their loved ones too. We understand how worrying it is when someone you love is in hospital.
“However, patients in hospital can be more vulnerable to severe illness because of COVID-19, so that’s why we still need to have some visiting restrictions in place at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, and in our community hospitals too.
“This update to our visiting policy reflects that we are still managing the risk of COVID-19, but at the same time recognising the huge contribution visiting makes to the wellbeing of our patients and their families.”
If you are planning to visit a patient in ESNEFT hospitals, please remember:
- Your visit must be booked in advance with ward teams – please do not just turn up. When you arrive for your visit, report to ward reception
- Two visitors may visit a patient together for up to two hours a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours. This is from the point of admission to a ward or an assessment unit – it does not apply to time spent in A&E.
- Up to three adults may visit during a patient’s hospital stay – but not at the same time. Only two may visit together.
- Visiting times will be staggered over a 12-hour period to manage footfall on the ward. Ward teams will help you book a slot that works for you and keeps everyone safe
- To take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) for COVID-19 on the day of your visit – where possible.
- To always wear a surgical face mask covering your nose and mouth – unless you are medically exempt
- To wash/sanitise your hands when entering and leaving the ward and hospital buildings
- To keep a safe distance from staff and other patients during your visit and time on the ward
- Visiting is still suspended on COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards which are closed due to COVID-19. In exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, visits will be arranged by ward leaders
- Children are not able to visit wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care
Some exceptions to visiting rules still apply. These are:
- End of life care
- Those in formal caring roles for patients with learning disabilities or severe dementia, for example
- Parents/carers of children in hospital: Two parents/carers may visit a child in hospital (one may stay with them overnight on the ward) and parents/carers may substitute each other
- Maternity: Two people (ideally birthing partners) may visit antenatal and postnatal wards, but there are extended visiting hours in place here, from 8am to 8pm
The Trust’s general visiting policy and principles also apply in the mortuaries at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.
The maximum number of people who may attend an appointment is limited to two visitors at a time. This is so we can maintain social distancing in the viewing room and our waiting areas. Viewings are by appointment only and must be booked in advance with Bereavement Services.
There is still no requirement to visit our sites in-person to collect a medical certificate of Cause of Death. This process continues to be managed electronically between our hospitals and the Registration Service.