09/12/2021 | Press releases

Chief Nurse issues plea for visitors to stick with COVID-19 visiting rules

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Nurse is calling for the public’s help to keep visiting going safely.

Visiting restrictions still apply in all hospitals run by the Trust to keep everyone – patients, visitors, and staff – safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. This is the Trust’s top priority.

Now that some visitors are being welcomed back on to wards, Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control Giles Thorpe is reminding communities in north east Essex and east Suffolk what the current policy is and to stick with it.

The following rules remain in place:

  • Patients may have one visitor to their ward for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours.
  • This visit must be pre-booked with ward teams in advance and visits can only be supported in the ward environment.
  • We must also ask that patients and their loved ones do not arrange to meet in groups in our hospital coffee shops and restaurants.

Giles said: “The plea from me and our ward teams is to please stick to the rules and for just one person to visit their loved one on the ward where they are being cared for.

“While a patient is on a ward, we can safely monitor their condition and manage the risk of infections being brought into a ward environment by limiting the number of visitors they have and overall footfall to the ward. If patients are out and about, it makes that job much more difficult. Please remember that, and all the people we’re caring for, when coming to our hospitals.”

Unplanned outdoor visits to see patients through windows or doors cannot be supported in ESNEFT hospitals either. Please book your visiting slot with ward teams.

Giles added: “We know how much patients and their loved ones value visiting and we understand that the ongoing restrictions are difficult. That’s why we were keen to reintroduce some visiting as safely and as quickly as possible following the recent Trust wide suspension, but we now need everyone’s help to keep visiting open.

“Our visiting policy is under constant review. If we start to see another rise in COVID-19 hospital admissions, we will have no choice but to suspend visiting again, which we do not want to do, but we all have our part to play in preventing the spread of the virus in our hospitals so we can keep visiting going.

“COVID-19 is still a very real public health concern, and our priority, as always, is to keep all our patients, visitors and staff safe in our hospitals.”


Please remember:

  • Patients may have one visitor to their ward for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours
  • Visits must be pre-booked with our ward teams in advance
  • A patient’s visitor must be the same for each visit for the duration of a patient’s stay (unless the visitor is a contact of a positive case of COVID-19, in which case an alternative visitor can be nominated)
  • Visiting times will continue to be staggered to keep footfall to a minimum in our hospitals
  • Under current COVID-19 guidelines, children are not able to visit our wards, apart from in exceptional / compassionate circumstances
  • Visits to COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards that are closed due to COVID-19 cannot be supported at this time, apart from in exceptional / compassionate circumstances
  • Anyone in a formal caring role is encouraged to speak to the nurse in charge to discuss the ongoing care of their relative / patient and the length of time they can spend on a ward
  • You will need to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) on the ward – this includes a surgical face mask over your nose and mouth, an apron and gloves
  • Visiting patients in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, including those receiving end of life care, is both encouraged and supported


ESNEFT strongly recommends all visitors:

  • Have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Take a rapid test for COVID-19 before they visit and show the evidence of a negative test result to ward teams, either through a photo of the test strip or via the NHS app. Tests can be ordered on the gov.uk website.
  • Do not visit a patient and stay at home if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, they feel generally unwell (even if it’s just a cold) or they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms

Our hospitals
ESNEFT’s visiting policy applies at Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital, Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.

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