06/01/2021 | Press releases

New Coronavirus (COVID-19) policy and guidelines for people visiting our hospitals

Attending appointments and visiting ESNEFT hospitals

Visiting policies and arrangements for attending appointments at hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) have been reviewed to keep everyone safe.

Some changes are being made to protect patients and staff following an increase in the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the hospitals and local community and the decision to place the country into another national lockdown.

Teams at the Trust have reviewed the existing suspension of visiting, in line with national guidance, and the attendance of appointments to keep everyone safe.

Visiting inpatients and attendance at appointments in exceptional compassionate circumstances, as well as carer responsibilities, will continue to be supported.

The following guidance will be in effect from 8am on Wednesday 6 January.

General ward visiting

  • Visiting to all wards, including Critical Care, remains suspended, apart from in exceptional circumstances

This decision will be kept under weekly review, based on Coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers and information on how the virus is spreading locally.


Visiting antenatal and postnatal wards

  • General visiting to antenatal and postnatal wards is suspended, apart from in exceptional circumstances which will be agreed with the senior midwife. This will reduce the footfall in our maternity units and enable social distancing to be maintained in these smaller, clinical areas

Children’s Services

  • One parent/carer may stay with a child in hospital
  • Parents/carers within the same support bubble may substitute each other


  • Patients must attend appointments alone


Emergency Department

  • Patients cannot be accompanied, unless they are a child, vulnerable adult or there are exceptional/ compassionate circumstances

All appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be worn by ESNEFT staff and face masks/coverings must be worn by all visitors to our hospitals at all times (excluding children under 11 and those who are exempt for a medical reason).

If any ESNEFT hospital wards are affected by cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), those wards will have to be closed to visitors, in line with Infection Prevention and Control guidance.


Exceptional circumstances for visiting

We will continue to support visiting in exceptional/compassionate circumstances where one visitor – an immediate family member or carer – can visit when, for example:

  • The patient you wish to visit is receiving end-of-life care
  • You are a parent or appropriate adult with a child in hospital
  • You are a carer who may be supporting someone with a learning disability or dementia, for example. Specific visiting guidance is here for carers.
  • See below for arrangements for antenatal care and Maternity.


Maternity and antenatal arrangements


Attending ultrasound scans

  • One adult from the same household can only attend 12 and 20 week scans and fetal medicine scans with someone who is pregnant at Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton hospitals. For everyone’s safety and to reduce the overall number of people in our hospitals, we must ask that the person brought to the appointment is the same person on every occasion. Whoever you bring with you for your 12 week scan, must be who you then bring with you to your 20 week scan. They must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and they must be able to wear a face mask.
  • We’ve redesigned our waiting areas to allow a partner/relative to attend 12 and 20 week scans and fetal medicine scans. Just report to reception when you arrive and you will be told where to sit. This is so we can make sure appropriate social distancing is maintained in the waiting room. After the scan, if no immediate counselling is required the partner/relative should leave the building while any additional care is provided.

The partner/relative attending the scan is respectfully asked to:

  • Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff
  • Wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – partners/relatives will be asked to leave the hospital building and won’t be able to attend the ultrasound scan if they refuse to do so

Birthing partners: Only one birthing partner may accompany a pregnant person in established labour. A person’s birthing partner will be able to stay with them from the point of admission to the labour ward until after the birth of their baby until they are either transferred to a postnatal ward, or discharged home – whichever happens first. Birthing partners will sadly not be allowed on to the postnatal ward, unless there are exceptional/compassionate circumstances.

Birthing partners must not be positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and are respectfully asked to:

  • Maintain a 2 metre distance away from staff within the birthing room
  • Wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – birthing partners will be asked to leave the hospital building if they refuse to do so
  • Stay at the bedside and remain in the birthing room with their partner

Induction of labour
: One birthing partner will only be able to attend the maternity unit when someone who is pregnant is transferred to the delivery suite in established labour, or to continue the induction of labour process.

Caesarean sections: Only one birthing partner may attend with a pregnant person for an elective Caesarean section. They will be asked to wait outside the maternity unit the pregnant person is ready to go to theatre. Following the birth, the birthing partner may stay while the person is in recovery, but they will be asked to leave when someone is transferred to the postnatal ward.

Full details of antenatal, Maternity and postnatal arrangements can be found on the ESNEFT website.

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 while face-to-face visiting is suspended.

In most cases, we ask that families nominate a key contact to liaise with ward staff who can then share updates with other families and friends.

Help us stop the spread

ESNEFT is asking everyone to help stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) by:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Wearing a face mask in our hospitals
  • Following social distancing guidance

Our hospitals

This guidance covers Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge, Ipswich, from 8am on Wednesday 6 January.

We’re still here to help our patients

Colchester and Ipswich hospitals’ Emergency Departments and the Urgent Treatment Centre at Colchester Hospital are open for 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 for advice

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