Visiting our wards


From Monday 19 September the following visiting guidance will be in place in ESNEFT hospitals:

General wards

  • Two visitors may visit most adult inpatient and critical care wards between 10am and 7pm. Some exceptions may apply – please double check with the team/nurse in charge of the ward you plan to visit. Visiting hours exclude protected mealtimes. We kindly ask you to check these times before your visit


  • Two adults (one birthing partner and one other) may visit antenatal/postnatal wards anytime between 8am and 8pm. Read more on our maternity appointments and visits page

Children’s Services 

  • Two parents/carers may visit a child together on children’s wards and neonatal units. One parent/carer may remain with their child throughout their stay, including overnight.
  • Other family members may also visit, for example siblings and grandparents, following discussion and agreement with ward teams
  • Two parents/carers can accompany children to outpatient appointments
  • If you have any questions, please call the children’s department caring for your child

Key information

  • All visitors are urged to wear surgical face masks – more information on why is on our news pages
  • Visits do not need to be booked in advance
  • There is no limit on the number of people who can see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay
  • Children, and children who are siblings of patients/newborn babies, are welcome to visit our wards. These visits must be discussed and agreed with ward teams in advance
  • These rules do not apply to visiting in exceptional circumstances. More flexible visiting is still supported on compassionate grounds for:
    – End of life care
    – People in formal caring roles
    – Supporting patients with dementia or a learning disability
  • Visitors are asked to stay at home and not visit a patient if they:
    – Have any COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days
    – Have had diarrhoea or vomiting. They should not come to hospital until they have been symptom free for 48 hours (two days)
    – Feel unwell in any way. This is essential to help prevent the spread of any infection, not just COVID-19
  • Visiting is still suspended in any bays on wards which are closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19, or any other infectious disease. In exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, visits will be supported and arranged by ward leaders

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

Attending A&E 

  • Patients can be accompanied by up to two visitors in A&E – providing the visitors are free of COVID-19 symptoms. Surgical face masks must still be worn by patients and visitors attending A&E departments. Both parents/carers can accompany children

Attending Outpatients

  • Patients can be accompanied by one visitor. This is due to space limitations in ESNEFT outpatient departments. We understand in some circumstances more than one person may wish to accompany a patient to their appointment. This must be discussed and arranged in advance by calling the number on your appointment letter. Two parents/carers can accompany children to outpatient appointments

From Wednesday 28 September all visitors to wards in ESNEFT hospitals must wear surgical face masks.
The move is being introduced to protect patients and keep them safe after an increase in cases of COVID-19 in ESNEFT hospitals.

Face masks must also be worn when visiting our A&E departments and urgent treatment centres (UTCs) and high risk areas, such as wards where patients are being treated for cancer or respiratory illnesses. You will be advised what the guidance and requirements are in those areas by ward teams.

Face masks are still available at all main entrances, or you can ask a member of staff on the ward or department you are visiting who can supply one for you.

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 one to recover in hospital

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

These small things can make a big difference to patients:

  • 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
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