Visiting restrictions and how to keep in touch with patients

Visiting our hospitals

There are changes to our visiting policy, effective from Thursday, 23rd December 2021.

We want to keep everyone safe, and due to an increase in transmission rates of Covid-19, linked to the Omicron variant, it has become necessary again to review our visiting arrangements.

Please note: Some wards and departments have their own visiting rules – please see below under the heading ‘Special visiting requirements for certain wards and departments’

One visitor per patient

The Trust will continue with the existing arrangements whereby patients will be allowed to have one visitor for one hour – at a pre-arranged time – between 1pm and 6pm each day. This applies to weekdays and weekends.

Visitors should be a close contact of the patient (e.g., a family member), and ideally someone from the same household or support bubble.

Visits must be booked in advance via ward staff. Every ward has an appointment book to record the visitors’ name and contact details. Appointments can be made by calling the ward clerk on shift between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. All visitors will be asked a series of Covid-19 screening questions when making an appointment.

Visitors must have undertaken a lateral flow test with a negative result on the day of their visit. Proof of this may be asked on arrival to the ward. In exceptional circumstances only, a test may be taken on arrival to the ward for asymptomatic visitors and by prior arrangement, based on availability of tests.  A new lateral flow test should be taken, with a negative result, for each day of visiting.

Important: Patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 10 days, or who tested positive for Covid-19 when they arrive at hospital, will not be able to receive visitors. This is important to reduce potential spread of the virus.

Contact information for wards and departments are available on our website. Please be patient when calling our ward staff – they will do their very best to help you.

If you would like to request a longer visit for exceptional reasons – or to provide personal care and support to a vulnerable patient – please speak to the nurse in charge on the ward.

All visitors must: 

  • Wear a face covering or mask (unless exempt – proof of exemption is required)
  • Wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds on entering the ward. Visitors should do the same on leaving the ward, and follow all other guidance given by our staff.
  • Keep the time spent in the hospital to a minimum. We would also ask that you go directly to the area you are visiting, and do not visit other areas of the hospital.

You must not visit the hospital if you are:

  • Unwell; especially if you have a high temperature or a new, persistent cough
  • Self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 exposure or potential exposure
  • Vulnerable as a result of medication, e.g., a chronic illness, or if they are over 70
  • No children under 12 should be visiting without the ward sister or charge nurse’s prior permission.

Special visiting requirements for certain wards and departments

A number of our wards and departments have a number of specific rules in place to keep visitors safe. These must be followed at all times.

Adult Intensive Care Units (ICU):

We allow visitors to our adult intensive care units under certain circumstances. Visiting rules are subject to change and visiting may be restricted at short notice for infection prevention and control reasons – thank you in advance for your patience and co-operation.

The following adult ICU patients are permitted visitors:

  • Patients receiving end of life care and/or those who are donating organs – daily visits
  • Patients with special needs (such as those with a learning disability, dementia, or communication needs)-daily visits
  • Patients who have stayed in ICU longer than seven days – twice weekly visits

All visits will be limited to one hour only. Visits must be booked in advance via ward staff.

A negative lateral flow is required and a covid risk assessment will be completed by a member of staff on arrival

Please note: Patients in adult ICU with Covid-19 infection are not permitted visitors. Our teams will continue to support virtual communication between patients with Covid-19 infection and their relatives.

Maternity and Foetal Scanning:

  • One birth partner is permitted to visit the antenatal ward between 8am and 10pm, every day of the week, including weekends. Two birth partners are permitted to be present once labour is established.
  • Two birth partners (with confirmed negative point of care test on arrival) are permitted intrapartum (during labour) once the woman is admitted to a single room. In triage no birth partner is allowed until confirmation of patient pathway.
  • All birth partners must complete a negative lateral flow prior to coming into hospital. All birth partners must have a caring role in labour – children and social visits are not permitted.
  • Postnatal visiting for one consistent birth partner is permitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week – further information will be shared with you once the woman is admitted to hospital.
  • For antenatal appointments and scans, one partner or carer is permitted following evidence of negative LFT. No children or other guests are allowed – this is the same for the community settings.

Paediatric patients:

  • Paediatric patients are allowed one parent to visit at a time, up to a total of 2 visitors (who must be the same people) – parents can switch during the day. One parent can stay overnight.

Neonatal and Special Care Baby Unit:

  • Parents or guardians can access/be with their baby 24 hours a day, seven days a week should they choose to do so. This also applies to anyone who is the baby’s legal carer.
  • Siblings (12 and over only) and grandparents can visit provided they have completed a negative lateral flow test on the day of the visit. A face covering or mask must be worn at all times, and visitors will be asked a series of Covid-19 screening questions upon arrival.
  • Siblings and grandparents’ visits must be no more than one hour and booked in advance with neonatal staff. There can only two people maximum at the baby’s cot side at any time.

Paediatric Intensive Care:

  • In Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), parents/guardians are welcome to be at their child’s bedside. Parents/guardians are encouraged to have some rest overnight in the adjacent bedroom accommodation on the unit.

End of life care patients:

  • End-of-life patients are allowed one visitor for extended times with their next of kin or allocated carer. Please speak to the ward if you require further information.

Patients with specific care needs:  

  • Patients with specific care needs (e.g., those dementia or other disabilities) are allowed one visitor or named carer at any time.

Patients awaiting or undergoing operations:

  • Patients who have shielded prior to coming into hospital for an operation or procedure can receive a visitor for one hour per day at a pre-arranged time between 1-6 pm. However, the patient’s visitor must complete a negative lateral flow on the day of the visit. If the visitor wishes to continue visiting, they must complete a negative lateral flow test for each day of visiting.

Ruth Myles, Gordon Smith and Trevor Howell wards:

  • Ruth Myles, Gordon Smith and Trevor Howell wards require one nominated visitor to undertake complete a negative lateral flow test on the day of the visit. If the visitor wishes to continue visiting, they must complete a negative lateral flow for each day of visiting.

Thomas Young and Gwynne Holford wards:

  • Visitors can visit Thomas Young and Gwynne Holford ward provided it is in line with the patient’s care plan. Visits must be booked in advance with the ward team.

Visiting contact Patients on wards:

  • Visiting is permitted on wards that have patients that are Covid contacts. PPE and a negative Lateral flow test is required for visitors.

Emergency Department patients

Visitors to the Emergency Department will only be permitted under the following circumstances:

  • To spend time with a patient who is in the final moments of their life
  • To accompany a vulnerable patient with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability, or autism
  • To assist with patients’ communication or provide interpretation
  • To support a pregnant person in labour – one birth partner is allowed.
  • Only one parent or carer may accompany a child or young person.

Accompanying others into hospital

Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist with communication and/or to meet their health, emotional, religious, or spiritual care needs.

One parent or guardian may accompany a person under the age of 16 to the Emergency Department, Minor Injury and Illness Units, or to an Outpatients appointment.

Access to lateral flow test devices

Members of the public can access lateral flow devices from the Gov.uk website – https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or alternatively can be ordered and collected from local pharmacies or community sites – find out if you can collect more tests from a site near you here.