20/09/2022 | Press releases

Relaxing visiting restrictions in all ESNEFT hospitals

Almost all visiting restrictions have been relaxed in hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

It means people with loved ones in hospital no longer need to book ward visiting slots and can visit patients for longer time periods.

The changes were made and shared with patients and their loved ones ahead of Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September.

It also comes as the Trust is seeing lower COVID-19 infection rates.


ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme


Nick Hulme is Chief Executive of ESNEFT. It is the organisation which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals and community services in east Suffolk and north Essex.

He said: “I am very happy to say we are in a position where we can relax the visiting restrictions we have had in place for some time – and that it is safe for us to do so.

“We appreciate how vitally important visiting is for our patients’ recovery and wellbeing, as well as those who are understandably worried and care about them at home.

“We were mindful too of the emotional impact the death of Her Majesty The Queen and her funeral had on the people in our care. That is why we wanted to have a more relaxed visiting policy in place yesterday for all our patients.”

Television services at patients’ bedsides (provided by WiFi Spark) in ESNEFT hospitals was free all day yesterday and it is again today, Tuesday 20 September, too.

The Trust’s IT team also helped to ensure wider coverage of The Queen’s funeral was available for patients, staff and visitors at Ipswich and Colchester by installing screens in the hospitals’ restaurants and Chapels. Arrangements were also in place across the Trust’s community hospitals.

Nick added: “We wanted anyone who was in hospital to be able to watch the coverage of the day’s poignant and historic events and to make sure they were not alone if they didn’t want to be.

“As always, we will keep our visiting policy under regular review. If needed, we will reinstate restrictions again, but for now we are delighted to have more open visiting in place to support our patients and their families.”


Key information for visiting ESNEFT hospitals

  • General wards: Two visitors may visit adult inpatient and critical care wards between 10am and 7pm (excluding protected mealtimes). Visitors are kindly asked to check these times before their visit
  • Maternity: Two adults (one birthing partner and one other) may visit antenatal/postnatal wards anytime between 8am and 8pm
  • Children’s Services: Two parents/carers may visit a child together on children’s wards and neonatal units. One parent/carer may remain with their child throughout their stay, including overnight. Other family members may also visit, for example siblings and grandparents, following discussion and agreement with ward teams.
  • Visits do not need to be booked in advance
  • There is no limit on the number of people who can see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay
  • Children, and children who are siblings of patients/newborn babies, are welcome to visit our wards. These visits must be discussed and agreed with ward teams in advance.
  • These rules do not apply to visiting in exceptional circumstances. More flexible visiting is still supported on compassionate grounds for:
    – End of life care
    – People in formal caring roles
    – Supporting patients with dementia or a learning disability
  • Visitors are asked to stay at home and not visit a patient if they:
    – Have any COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days
    – Have had diarrhoea or vomiting. They should not come to hospital until they have been symptom free for 48 hours (two days)
    – Feel unwell in any way
  • Visiting is still suspended in any bays on wards which are closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19, or any other infectious disease. In exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, visits will be supported and arranged by ward leaders
  • A&E: Patients can be accompanied by up to two visitors in A&E – providing the visitors are free of COVID-19 symptoms. Surgical face masks must still be worn by patients and visitors attending A&E departments. Both parents/carers can accompany children
  • Outpatients: Patients can be accompanied by one visitor. This is due to space limitations in ESNEFT outpatient departments. We understand in some circumstances more than one person may wish to accompany a patient to their appointment. This must be discussed and arranged in advance by calling the number on your appointment letter. Both parents/carers can accompany children to appointments

More information about visiting can also be found on our Visiting our wards page.

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