Visiting is being suspended in all hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) from New Year’s Day (Saturday 1 January).
This is due to the high number of COVID-19 infections in the community and the increasing number of patients with COVID-19 in the Trust’s hospitals.
This will affect Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital, Harwich, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich.
However, there are some exemptions and visiting will still be supported for:
- End-of-life care
- Those in formal caring roles for patients with, for example, learning disabilities or severe dementia
- Parents of children
There will be no changes in these areas.
Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals and community services in east Suffolk and north east Essex.
He said: “Once again, this has been a very tough decision to make. We understand how important visiting is to our patients and their families and friends, but we must do everything we can to keep everyone safe in our hospitals.
“We have been keeping a close eye on community COVID-19 infection rates and the number of people in our hospitals with the virus and this is action we really need to take now.
“One of the ways we can keep our staff and patients safe is to reduce the footfall on our sites, but we will keep the policy under review so we can reintroduce visiting again as quickly and as safely as we can.”
Pre-booked visiting slots will be honoured for the remainder of today (31 December). The Trust wide suspension of visiting will then come into effect on Saturday 1 January.
How long will visiting be suspended for?
The situation will be kept under regular review, in line with hospital admissions and community COVID-19 infection rates.
A decision will then be made about whether to continue with the suspension or return to a restricted visiting policy.
Giles added: “We’d like to thank everyone in our communities for their support and understanding as we implement this change to our visiting policy once again. We appreciate your patience and will make changes as quickly as we can.”
How can you keep in touch while visiting is suspended?
Relatives of patients in east Suffolk and north east Essex can keep in touch with their loved ones via the Trust’s Letters to Loved Ones service.
Ward teams will also support patients by facilitating phone calls with their friends and family.
If all families and carers could nominate just one person (usually the next of kin) to be the main contact while visiting is suspended, we would be grateful.
We’d then ask that nominated person to be the only person who calls the ward. They can then share updates with family and friends.
This will help to significantly reduce the very large number of calls made to wards and allow more time for staff to care for patients.
Sending deliveries to wards
We are more than happy to receive deliveries direct to our wards, but please note the following:
At Colchester Hospital: We cannot accept deliveries from retailers, including Amazon, at main reception. Our staff are not able to leave the wards to collect them. Items sent via Royal Mail are delivered straight to our post room and are then taken direct to the ward.
At Ipswich Hospital: Delivery drivers and Royal Mail staff are able to go straight to the delivery point, or our post room. From there, colleagues will make sure deliveries are taken direct to the ward.
In the community: There are different arrangements at each of our community hospital sites. Please speak to the nurse in charge of the ward or hospital where your loved one is an inpatient for further advice.
Please note there have been no changes to accompanying people attending our accident and emergency department. Patients cannot be accompanied in waiting areas, 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 COVID-19 symptoms. Read more here.
Please note there have been no changes to accompany people attending our Outpatient departments. Patients cannot be accompanied in waiting areas, 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 COVID-19 symptoms. Read more here.Back to top