26/11/2021 | Announcements, Press releases

Restricted ward visiting to be reintroduced in ESNEFT hospitals

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

It comes after a large majority of visiting had to be suspended due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, both in the Trust’s hospitals and in the north east Essex and east Suffolk areas.

From Monday 29 November, visitors will be welcomed back to wards in a safe and controlled way with the return of pre-booked visiting slots.

After they have been in hospital for 24 hours, patients can nominate one visitor who will be able to see them for one hour a day for the duration of their stay. Different arrangements are in place on the Trust’s maternity wards.

We are strongly recommending 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 have any symptoms of COVID-19, they feel generally unwell (even if it’s just a cold) or they have diarrhoea and vomiting symptoms

Anyone in a formal caring role is not classed as a visitor and will continue to be supported with providing essential care in ESNEFT hospitals.

Carers are encouraged to speak to ward managers to discuss the ongoing care of their relative / patient and the length of time they can spend on a ward.

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.

Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse at ESNEFT. He said: “We’re very happy that we can safely welcome some visitors back to our hospitals, but we now need our communities help to keep visiting open.

“Please take up the offer of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the booster if you’re eligible, take a lateral flow test before you visit our wards and stay at home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or you’re unwell in any way.

“The consequence of this advice not being followed is that we will have to close down visiting again over the Christmas and New Year period. We really do not want to do that as we know how important visiting is to patients and their loved ones, especially at this time of year.

“However, COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and while we are still seeing hospitalisations and deaths locally, we need to do all we can to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe.

“We’ll continue to keep our visiting arrangements under close review, including monitoring local rates of COVID-19 infection, and we won’t hesitate to make changes again if we need to.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support to help us limit the spread of COVID-19 and other winter illnesses in our hospitals.”


All visitors to ESNEFT hospitals are asked to remember:

  • Patients may have one visitor 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
  • To speak to the nurse in charge if they are in a formal caring role to discuss the ongoing care of their relative / patient and the length of time they can spend on a ward
  • 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
  • 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

Visitors cannot:

  • See loved ones through windows / doors during unplanned visits – please book your visiting slot with our ward teams
  • Visit or accompany patients to any appointments in our hospitals if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Visit or accompany patients in our hospitals if they have been identified as a contact of a positive COVID-19
  • Bring children to visit patients in our wards, apart from in exceptional / compassionate circumstances
  • Visit COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards that are closed due to COVID-19, apart from in exceptional / compassionate circumstances

Please be reminded, we still have specific visiting guidance in place in other areas of our hospitals, including A&E and Outpatients, which is unchanged for now. 

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