Visiting our wards


From Thursday 28 April two people will be able to visit a patient at their bedside, 24 hours after they have been admitted to a ward or assessment unit.

It comes after the majority of ward visiting had to be suspended last month due to the significant and sustained impact of COVID-19 in our hospitals and on staffing.

Visiting slots, which must still be booked in advance with ward teams, will be one hour long. This does not apply to visiting in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care, where more open visiting remains in place (see below). More flexible visiting for carers is also supported. Carers may stay with a patient as needed and be substituted by a visitor.


Up to three people can see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay – but only two out of the three visitors may visit a ward together.

Anyone showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or anyone feeling unwell, should not visit ESNEFT hospitals. This is essential to help prevent the spread of any infection, not just COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms may not be limited to just a fever, new continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste.


The official list of symptoms has been expanded by the UK Health Security Agency to include nine more signs of infection:


  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • aching body
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Key points for general ward visiting to remember:

  • Two visitors may visit a patient together for up to 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.
  • Visiting slots must be booked in advance with ward teams
  • Up to three adults may visit during a patient’s hospital stay – but not at the same time
  • Visiting times must still be staggered over a 12-hour period to safely manage footfall
  • Visiting is still suspended on COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards which are closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. In exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, visits will be arranged by ward leaders in these areas
  • A limit on the maximum number of visitors in a bay during each, visiting slot needs to be in place
  • Children are not able to visit wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care


We will be asking visitors to:


  • Book their visit in advance with ward teams
  • Take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) for COVID-19 on the day of their visit (if they can).
  • Always wear a surgical face mask covering their nose and mouth unless they are medically exempt. If they cannot wear a surgical face mask, visitors should be offered a visor as an alternative
  • Keep a safe distance from staff and other patients during their visit and time on the ward
  • Wash/sanitise their hands when entering and leaving the ward and our buildings
  • Report to ward reception upon arrival



More open visiting will remain in place for:

  • End of life care
  • People in formal caring roles
  • Supporting patients with dementia or a learning disability
  • Parents of children in hospital
  • Two birthing partners may attend the labour and birth of a baby.
    Two people (one birthing partner and one other), may visit antenatal/postnatal wards. The selected birthing partner may visit anytime between 8am and 8pm and a second visitor may accompany them for a booked one-hour slot during that time.

Read more on our maternity appointments and visits page.


Attending A&E and Outpatients

  • There have been no changes in A&E or OutpatientsExisting COVID-19 visiting restrictions remain in place in those departments. Please attend alone. Only carers, or one support person in essential cases, may attend with you.


Children’s Services

  • One parent/carer may visit a child on our children’s wards. As always, one parent may remain with their child throughout their stay, including overnight. A parent/carer who is not in the same household may continue to interchange and substitute each other as needed. Under current COVID-19 guidelines, children are not able to visit our wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances
  • If you have any questions, please call the children’s department caring for your child


Our hospitals

This guidance applies to Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, Clacton Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.


Helping your loved on to recover in hospital

Did you know you can help your loved one’s recovery when you’re visiting them in hospital?

Ways to help:

  • Bring in clothing and toiletries and encourage the patient to wash and get dressed independently where possible
  • Make sure patients have any continence aids they are used to using so they feel confident, comfortable and dignified
  • Bring in their favourite nutritional snacks
  • For patients with cognitive impairments, ask staff if you can help complete a ‘This is Me’ document which will help hospital teams know more about the patient.

These small things can make a big difference to patients.



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