The Trust first implemented an Interim Visiting Policy in March 2020, and updated it in July 2020. This policy has now been updated further to take account of recent regional, national and professional guidance along with changes to restrictions. The aim of the policy is to protect patients, staff and visitors by minimising the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by reducing footfall in our hospitals and community inpatient areas.
We recognise that maintaining contact with friends and family during a hospital admission is very important to our patients and their loved ones. In order to support patients to maintain contact with loved ones, the option of virtual visiting will be offered regularly to all inpatients.
Our policy enables specific identified needs to be taken into account, such as end of life care, cognitive impairment, learning disability/autism and visual or auditory impairment. The specific needs of women in labour, neonates and children are also recognised within the policy. Where there is a specific identified need, agreed named visitors may be permitted as set out in the policy. Essential visitors who meet a specific, identified care or communication need should not be counted as named visitors. Patients with identified specific needs must be reviewed by the senior clinician and Ward Manager or Matron on the day of admission and daily thereafter to determine the appropriate visiting arrangements.
The revised policy is effective with immediate effect. Key points are set out below for ease of reference:
- Visiting is not permitted for adult patients with an admission period of fewer than 7 days, (unless the patient has a specific identified need). If the level of risk for the area is assessed as low, the senior clinician and Ward Manager may agree one named visitor who may visit at pre-arranged times for patients whose admission exceeds 7 days. Any permitted visiting will be time restricted and must be arranged in advance with the Ward Manager/Nurse in Charge.
- Patients who need to attend face to face outpatient appointments should be encouraged to attend alone where possible. Patients who need to be accompanied may bring one person to their appointment.
- One parent/named family member may be resident with a child in hospital. Parents who live in the same household can swap places. If a child’s admission exceeds 7 days and the level of risk is assessed as low, one named visitor, in addition to the resident parent may visit at a pre-arranged time for a defined time period, if this is assessed as necessary and can be safely accommodated.
- For babies cared for in Neonatal Intensive Care areas, both parents may visit together for the first 24 hours of admission, after which one parent may stay with their baby.
- One essential visitor and one named birth partner are permitted to accompany a woman in the Delivery Units/Birth Centre. Without exception, the essential visitor/named birth partner must wear PPE as appropriate.
- One essential visitor and one named visitor are permitted to visit women in maternity wards when the risk level is assessed as low or medium. If the risk level is high, visiting is restricted to one essential visitor.
- Women can be accompanied by one named adult in maternity triage and throughout their antenatal care and if they wish, providing social distancing can be maintained. One named person may accompany a woman for the 20 week mid-pregnancy anomaly scan, providing social distancing can be maintained.
- Children (aged below 16 years) are not permitted to visit unless the patient is receiving end of life care and it is assessed by the senior clinician and Ward Manager/Nurse in Charge as appropriate for a child to visit accompanied and supported by a named adult visitor, and a visit can be safely accommodated.
Staff are asked to ensure that patients and their loved ones are aware of the policy and the changes that are effective from today. Anyone who meets the restricted criteria to visit a patient must be made aware of hand hygiene on arrival and must wear PPE as appropriate.
In order to protect our patients and staff, visitors who refuse to comply with these requirements must be asked to leave the Trust’s premises.
Visitors must be advised not to visit any Trust premises if they are unwell, have symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have had contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case. Visitors who are at risk of COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or being over the age of 70 should also be advised not to visit.
We will continue to review the policy in the context of national/regional guidance, COVID-19 infection rates and restrictions.