27/10/2021 | Announcements, Press releases

Temporary suspension of visiting in all ESNEFT hospitals

Visiting is being temporarily suspended in all hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

The difficult decision was taken to temporarily suspend visiting in Suffolk hospitals on Wednesday, 27 October, and it now needs to be extended to north east Essex.

Visiting will therefore be suspended in the Trust’s north east Essex hospitals from Friday 29 October.

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 latest update will affect Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital, Harwich.

Visiting is already suspended at Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich.

However, there are some exceptions 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
  • Maternity

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: “This week we have already taken the difficult decision to suspend visiting in our hospitals in east Suffolk.

“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 we now need to take the same action in north east Essex.

“This has not been an easy 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.”


Keeping in contact while visiting is suspended

Relatives of patients in east Suffolk and north east Essex can keep in touch with them via the Trust’s Letters to Loved Ones service.

We would be most grateful if all families and carers could help us by nominating one person (usually the next of kin) to be the main contact and to make phone calls to our wards. They can then share updates with a patient’s family and friends.

This will help us significantly to reduce the very large number of calls which are being 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 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 where your loved one is an inpatient for further advice.


How long will visiting be suspended for?

The situation will be reviewed in two weeks, 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 continue to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.”


Attending A&E and Outpatients

Please note there have been no changes to accompanying people attending our accident and emergency or 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.


Update 17 November 

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: “Our Infection Prevention and Control committee has carefully reviewed the temporary suspension of a large majority of visiting in our hospitals.

“While the number of COVID-19 infections remains high in our communities, and a higher number of people with the virus are inpatients in our hospitals, we will not be making any changes or reintroducing restricted visiting just yet. This is so we can continue to keep everyone safe.

“Any changes to our visiting policy will be made as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We’d like to thank our communities for their patience and understanding as we work hard to keep everyone – patients, visitors and staff – safe in our hospitals.”

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