10/02/2022 | Press releases

Restricted ward visiting to be reintroduced in all ESNEFT hospitals

Patients in hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) will be able to have a visitor to see them again.

A restricted visiting policy is being reintroduced in all the Trust’s hospitals from Monday, 14 February.

It comes after a majority of ward visiting had to be suspended at the beginning of the year due to the impact of COVID-19, both in hospital and in the community too.

Ward visiting slots will open in all ESNEFT hospitals on Monday, 14 February – not before. A patient’s nominated key contact is kindly asked not to call to book their visits until then, when the following rules will be in place to keep everyone – patients, visitors, and staff – safe:

  • One named visitor may visit a patient for one hour 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.
    This rule does not apply to visiting in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care, where more open visiting is in place.
  • Visitors are urged to be vaccinated (two doses) and, ideally, boosted against COVID-19 and are expected to take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) for COVID-19 on the day of their visit

ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme


ESNEFT Chief Executive Nick Hulme said: “I’m delighted that we are now able to cautiously reintroduce visiting in all our hospital sites.

“We recognise the significant upset not having visitors can cause to patients and their families and suspending visiting is never an easy decision for us. However, our priority is always to keep everyone safe, whether they’re in our care, visiting someone they love, or they’re at work.

“That’s why we remain cautious and why we are insisting certain precautions are taken by visitors, including taking a lateral flow test before coming to our hospitals and being vaccinated against COVID-19.

“As ever, we will keep all our decisions around visiting under constant review.”

ESNEFT Chief Nurse Giles Thorpe


Giles Thorpe is the Trust’s Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control.

He said: “We are hugely grateful to our patients and their families for their patience and understanding while visiting has been suspended.

“We have kept the policy under weekly review and although we still have COVID-19 inpatients in our wards, we want to slowly reintroduce some visiting to support patient wellbeing, reassure their loved ones and support our staff too.

“We must continue to have measures in place though to keep everyone safe – including those who are extremely vulnerable or have weakened immune systems – when they’re in our hospitals.

“That’s why we’re asking visitors to, ideally, be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to take a test for the virus before they visit. Testing will help to detect asymptomatic infection where someone will have no symptoms but can still infect others.

“We know that no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing infection, but what we do know about the COVID-19 vaccine now is that it provides a high degree of protection from serious disease, while also providing protection from being infected in some cases.

“Please help us to keep our patients and staff safe and only visit if you are vaccinated and symptom free. Thank you for your support.”


The key things to remember about visiting ESNEFT wards are:

  • One named visitor may visit a patient on a ward for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours
  • Visiting slots must be booked in advance with ward teams
  • A patient’s nominated key contact should remain the point of contact for all bookings
  • Visiting times will be staggered over a 12-hour period to keep footfall to a minimum
  • The visitor must be the same person for the duration of a patient’s stay. If that person tests positive for COVID-19, a substitute visitor may be nominated
  • Visits to COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards that are closed due to COVID-19 are not possible. However, exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, still apply, and will be arranged by ward leaders
  • Exceptions to visiting rules (that were originally in place) still stand. These are: end of life care, those in formal caring roles for patients with, for example, learning disabilities or severe dementia, parents of children and maternity.
  • Children are not able to visit wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances

Please note there will be no changes in A&E or Outpatients – existing COVID-19 visiting restrictions remain in place in those departments.


ESNEFT is strongly recommending visitors:

  • Are vaccinated (two doses) and, ideally, boosted against COVID-19. Visitors will be asked to show their COVID-19 vaccination status in the NHS app, or their paper vaccination cards if they do not have a smartphone
  • Take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) for COVID-19 before their visit and show the evidence of a negative test result to ward staff, either through a photo of the test strip or via the NHS app. Tests can be ordered on the Government website
  • Always wear a surgical face mask – unless medically exempt. If this is the case, please make ward teams aware as they will be able to offer alternative face protection
  • Follow social distancing guidance
  • Wash/sanitise their hands when entering and leaving the ward and hospital buildings
  • Report to ward reception upon arrival for their visit
  • Avoid using hospital toilets, shops, and cafes, where possible. This is so we can continue to limit footfall in these areas and keep everyone safe in our hospitals

If visitors arrive without a pre-booked visiting slot, or a negative LFT result, unfortunately they will need to be politely turned away.

Visitors are urged to familiarise themselves with the Trust’s visiting policy and ask ward teams any questions they may have at the time of booking their visit. They are here to support patient’s loved ones with understanding the visiting policy and the Trust’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team is also available to help.


Mortuary visiting  

Visits to mortuaries at Ipswich Hospital and Colchester Hospital will be supported from Monday 14 February. The Trust’s general visiting policy and principles regarding COVID-19 vaccination status, LFT testing and wearing a surgical face mask, will also apply.

The maximum number of people who may attend an appointment is limited to two named visitors only. 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.

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.

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