21/04/2022 | Press releases

Update on visiting restrictions in ESNEFT hospitals

Visiting restrictions remain in place for now in all hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

While community COVID-19 infection rates may be falling in some areas, the rate of infection in and around ESNEFT hospitals is still high. That is why most ward visiting is still closed.

However, the Trust’s visiting policy is under regular review, with almost daily discussions being had about any changes that can safely take place to support and reassure patients and their families.

Nick Hulme is ESNEFT’s Chief Executive.

“Quite rightly, people are asking me why we still have visiting restrictions in place when other hospitals do not,” he said.

“But the truth is the situation from one Trust to another, even if they are in the same county, is never the same. Community infection rates have come down in other areas quicker than they have in north Essex and east Suffolk, and therefore inpatient numbers in those areas have come down too.

“Due to the number of COVID-19 cases and contacts in our hospitals, as well as community prevalence of the virus, most of our visiting restrictions must remain in place for now

“Our priority, as always, is to keep everyone in our hospitals as safe as possible, but we are committed to reinstating more open ward visiting as soon as we can.”

Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at ESNEFT.

He said: “We are still seeing high rates of COVID-19 and people are still being admitted with the virus too, so we must continue to do all we can to stop transmission in our hospitals.

“That is why we still have visiting restrictions in place. We do appreciate and understand how difficult it is for our patients and the people who care about them, but we cannot ignore the number of patients we have with the virus and how infectious this latest variant is.

“We did manage to open some visiting for patients who have been in hospital for more than seven days before the Easter weekend and we are moving towards more open general visiting – but we’re not there yet.”


Visiting patients who have been in hospital for more than seven days

To support patient wellbeing, particularly for those who have been in ESNEFT hospitals for longer periods of time, some visiting was opened ahead of the Easter weekend.

If a patient has been in hospital for seven days or more, they may have one visitor to see them for up to one hour a day.

The patient must not:

  • Be positive for COVID-19
  • Be a contact of a positive COVID-19 case

The visitor must:

  • Be the same person for each visit. Visitors cannot interchange or substitute one another
  • Pre-book their visit with ward teams
  • Not be positive for COVID-19, or have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Wear a surgical face mask, and if they are carrying out any elements of patient care, they will also need to wear an apron and gloves
  • Wash or sanitise their hands when entering and leaving the ward

Please remember more open visiting remains in place for:

  • End of life care
  • People in formal caring roles
  • Supporting patients with a dementia or learning disability
  • Parents of children in hospital
  • Maternity: One birthing partner (this has temporarily reduced from two) may attend the delivery of a baby and one person, ideally the birthing partner, may continue to visit antenatal/postnatal wards between 8am and 8pm.
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