East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is making further changes to visiting arrangements at its hospitals, including the relaxation of existing Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in maternity services.
The changes apply in four areas – maternity, emergency departments (A&E), children’s services and end of life care.
The new arrangements in maternity will be in place from Monday 12 April, in line with the next phase of the Government’s planned easing of the national lockdown.
Updated guidance for attending emergency departments (A&E), children’s services and end of life care visiting came into effect on Wednesday 31 March.
However, anyone showing symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) should not visit or accompany patients to any appointments in our hospitals.
The guidance covers all maternity appointments and visits at Colchester, Ipswich and Clacton hospitals.
The key changes are:
- Pregnant people can be accompanied at all scans by one support person
- Pregnant people can be accompanied at all antenatal and postnatal appointments by one support person
- One support person ideally from the same household or support bubble may visit antenatal and postnatal wards for two hours, which has been extended from one hour
- One support person may accompany someone in labour from the point of admission to the maternity unit – rather than from the point of established labour
ESNEFT’s Chief Nurse Giles Thorpe said: “We are very happy to be relaxing visiting restrictions in maternity services at our hospitals. We have made these changes as quickly and as safely as possible, in line with national guidance.
“We would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during what we know has been an extremely difficult time for expectant parents and their families.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff remains our top priority. We will, therefore, keep these new arrangements under regular review, including close monitoring of local Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates.
“This is a positive step forward for our families, which will allow us to continue offering the best possible care and support for people throughout their pregnancies.”
- Two parents / carers may visit a child on our children’s wards if they are from the same household or support bubble as the patient. As always, one parent may remain resident with their child throughout their stay. Parents / carers who are not in the same household or support bubble may continue to substitute each other as needed, but this will be limited to one person at a time. Under current Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines children are not able to visit our wards, apart from in exceptional/compassionate circumstances
Emergency Departments (A&E)
- Due to the need to maintain social distancing we are unfortunately still not able to allow visitors to accompany patients in our waiting rooms, unless the patient is a child, a vulnerable adult, or there are exceptional/compassionate circumstances, in which case one adult may accompany the patient – providing the patient and accompanying adult are free of Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- Patients who are in our majors and resuscitation areas only may be accompanied by one close family contact, or somebody important to them (ideally from the same household or support bubble) within the A&E department – providing the patient and accompanying adult are free of Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- Visitors may not accompany the patient to other departments, for example x-ray. They must remain within the area of A&E they are in, until the patient is admitted or discharged, and not wander around the hospital building. If the patient is admitted, visitors will be kindly asked to leave at that point and book a ward visit – see our general ward visiting guidance
Colchester and Ipswich hospitals’ Emergency Departments and the urgent treatment centre at Colchester Hospital remain open to patients who need urgent and emergency help. If you have a health concern that’s not an emergency, but you’re thinking about coming to A&E call NHS 111 first.
End of life visiting
- Up to four visitors will be able to visit patients receiving end of life care, where social distancing on the ward can be maintained and it has been agreed with the clinical team
Please be reminded the following guidance in other areas of our hospitals, which is under regular review, is unchanged for now. These rules still apply:
- One visitor (ideally from the same household or support bubble as the patient) may visit a ward for one hour a day after a patient has been in hospital for 48 hours. Visiting slots must be booked with the ward team and we ask that this visitor remains consistent and is the same for each visit. Under current Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, children are not able to visit our wards, apart from in exceptional / compassionate circumstances. Unfortunately, visits to Coronavirus (COVID-19) wards and any bays on wards that are closed due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be supported at this time
- Patients cannot be accompanied, unless they are a child, vulnerable adult or there are exceptional/compassionate circumstances, in which case one adult may accompany the patient – providing the patient and accompanying adult are free of Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. This is so we can maintain social distancing in both our waiting rooms and clinical areas
- Visiting to the unit will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge.
- Visiting will be supported. The maximum number of visitors who may attend an appointment is two (this is so we can maintain social distancing in the viewing room and our waiting areas). There is still no requirement to attend the hospital to collect a medical certificate of Cause of Death as this process is being managed electronically between the hospital and the Registration Service.
Visiting and attendance at appointments in exceptional / compassionate circumstances, as well as carer responsibilities is supported across the Trust. Specific visiting guidance is here for carers.
Keeping everyone safe
ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme said: “The safety of our patients, visitors and staff is what’s most important to us.
“Restricted visiting policies and arrangements for attending appointments in our hospitals have to stay in place for now while Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be in general circulation in our communities and hospitals, but we will make further changes when we can.
“Our teams are working incredibly hard to keep everybody safe, whether they’re receiving our care or visiting loved ones, and we sincerely thank you for your continued patience and support.”
Visitors and PPE
- All visitors must wear a surgical face mask – we will be able to supply you with one so personal, fabric face coverings are not worn on our wards
- You only need to wear gloves and an apron, in addition to your face mask, if you are involved with personal care of your loved one on a ward
Staying in contact with families and loved ones
The Trust’s letters to loved ones service is still running and teams will continue to use iPads and mobile phones to help people keep in touch where face-to-face visiting is not possible.
Help us stop the spread
ESNEFT is asking everyone to help stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) by:
- Following the national rules of lockdown (see gov.uk)
- Washing your hands regularly, especially before and after your visit
- Wearing a face mask
- Following social distancing guidance
This guidance covers Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge, Ipswich.
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