STAFF at St George’s are to give their views on the best times for friends and relatives to visit patients. Over the last ten years the hospital has gradually relaxed its visiting hours, allowing each ward and unit to decide on their own appropriate visiting times, but the Trust is now considering bringing back set visiting hours and limiting the number of visitors patients receive at any one time. These changes will improve infection control, minimise interruptions to patient care and rest, and make the scheduling of ward cleaning and meal-times easier.

Initial consultations with senior nursing staff have resulted in a number of recommendations. Now all staff are being polled to find out if they think visiting hours should stay as they are or be:

  • 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm
  • 3 pm to 8 pm
  • for a maximum of two hours at any time

Whichever option is chosen, St George’s has decided that patients should receive a maximum of two visitors at any one time. Although this has always been the hospital’s policy, it is not something that has previously been enforced.

Any changes introduced will not apply to children’s wards, geriatric medicine wards and intensive care units. The hospital will also make exceptions depending on the severity of illness and the nature of clinical care provided.

Geraldine Walters, Director of Nursing and Patient Involvement said:

“The changes proposed are not extreme, but we believe they will improve day-to-day care for patients. It’s important to find out what visiting hours our staff believe are the most acceptable and beneficial to patients and the running of the hospital. Changes will be implemented gradually and, as our patients and visitors are from various cultural and religious backgrounds, we will be building a degree of flexibility into any new visiting schemes.”

The staff poll will close on 5th October 2007. Based on the views and opinions received, the preferred patient visiting hours will be announced introduced later in the year.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please call Liz Woods, Charitable Communications Manager at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 020 8725 4522 or e-mail