Visiting rules are being relaxed at hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) so that some patients and their loved ones can see each other again.
The Trust reintroduced visiting on 15 June. It comes after the publication of new national guidance on hospital visiting during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. One visitor a day will now be able to see patients who have been in hospital for more than 48 hours.
The visit will be for 45 minutes and must be ‘booked’ in advance by ringing the ward where the patient is receiving care. Staggered visiting times are running from 10am to 9pm, Monday to Friday.
At the same time, patients and visitors using any of ESNEFT’s services must now wear a face covering at all times to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and others.
The covering can be made of fabric and does not need to be a medical mask. Anyone who comes to hospital in an emergency will be given a mask when they arrive.
Nick Hulme, ESNEFT Chief Executive, said: “We recognise how difficult the past few weeks has been for people who could not visit. This is a major step forward to support our patients and the people who care about them.
“I have corresponded with many families who have found it really tough and so we wanted to respond as quickly as possible to the relaxation of the national hospital visiting guidance.
“We need to make sure we do it safely – for the patient, the visitor, our staff and communities. That is why some restrictions are still in place and why we are limiting the time of visiting slots for now.
“If you are coming to visit someone in our hospitals, please follow our new guidance.”
Patients may have up to three different visitors during their admission, but these visits must be booked by the person closest to the patient, such as their next of kin. Only this nominated person will be able to book visits for the patient.
Some areas of the hospitals are still closed to visitors, such as critical care units. Family liaison teams will support virtual visiting in those areas.
The letters to loved ones service is still running and teams will continue using iPads and phones to help people keep in touch too.
Visiting arrangements in exceptional circumstances, such as when a patient is receiving end of life care, have not changed.
Mr Hulme added: “We are asking for everyone’s help in making these new visiting hours work. We are also asking you to bear with us as we introduce this new system.”
ESNEFT is asking visitors to:
- Book a time for your visit by calling the ward caring for the patient you would like to see. Please ring between 10am and 3pm on weekdays only. All the ward telephone numbers can be found here.
- Wear a face covering (please supply your own) when you come to our hospitals to visit or for an outpatient appointment.
- Make sure you observe social distancing at all times and wash/sanitise your hands.
- Please do not linger in shops or communal areas.