Visiting and keeping in touch during the Coronavirus pandemic

A face mask or face covering must be worn in the hospital at all times. Please note that if you are unable to wear a face mask or covering you will not be permitted to visit any patients in any of our hospitals. The only excpetion to this will be if you are visiting a patient at the end of their life and have medical exemption from wearing a face mask.

Visiting arrangements 

Now that the prevalence of Covid has significantly diminished and the national restrictions are set to further ease, the Trust has taken the decision to reintroduce visiting from Monday 17 May (maternity services already had established visiting times and these will remain the same and can be found here).

We know how difficult it has been for our community not being able to visit their loved ones in hospital so we are sure this will be very welcome news. However, we do still need to ensure everyone’s safety so visiting will still need to follow the same strict arrangements we had in place previously.

As a reminder, these are:

  • visitors are only permitted on areas where there are no suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients (apart from in exceptional circumstances such as the end of life)
  • visitors are strictly limited to one identified visitor per patient
  • visiting will only be facilitated between the hours of 2pm - 4pm and 6pm – 7pm unless there are exceptional circumstances (patients should not be receiving visitors at both sessions
  • a visiting session can last up to one-hour duration (this is at the discretion of the ward manager, some visits may need to be cut short or cancelled due to visitor numbers in order to achieve social distancing and ensure everyone’s safety).

If you wish to visit someone on one of our wards please call the ward you wish to visit at any time after 9.00am to arrange your visit. Please be aware that at the time of booking you will be asked if you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19. If you do, unfortuntely you will not be allowed to visit. 

Please note: This does not apply to visiting Maternity wards or visiting Children who are in hospital and in circumstances where patients are reaching the end of their life. There is also a limited visiting policy in place on Critical Care - please contact the ward and they will be able to advise further.

Visiting in exceptional circumstances

There will be special exceptions for visitors in the following circumstances:

  • Immediate family members/partners of those at end of life
  • Carers for patients who require assistance e.g. supporting someone with a mental health condition, dementia, delirium, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
  • Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist their communication and/or to meet their health, religious or spiritual care needs.

Guidance for visiting

Before visiting, you should call the ward directly any time after 9am to discuss appropriate arrangements and what to expect when you visit. This should include:

  • A verbal ‘symptom check’ carried out by ward staff to ensure that you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature / new, continuous cough / loss or change to sense of smell or taste) and to check that you are not self-isolating. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild or intermittent, due to the risk they pose to others.
  • Informing you that your details (name and contact details) will be recorded to aid the NHS Test and Trace teams if contact tracing is indicated.
  • Ensuring that you are following any local or national restrictions in your area of residence related to travel and social contact.

What to expect when attending a hospital site

  • A face mask or face covering must be worn at the hospital at all times. Please note that if you are unable to wear a face mask or covering you will not be permitted to visit any patients in any of our hospitals. The only excpetion to this will be if you are visiting a patient at the end of their life.
  • You may have to wait to gain access to the ward if high numbers of visitors are present.
  • Staff may have to restrict or shorten the visit in order to maintain social distancing.
  • It is important to maintain a 2 metre social distance during your visit and when entering and leaving the hospital building, including all communal areas and lifts.
  • Avoid touching any surfaces, entering and leaving the setting as quickly as possible using the most direct route.
  • Hand hygiene - use the hand sanitiser provided or soap and water where available:
    • on arrival to the hospital on entering the ward/department
    • when donning/doffing relevant PPE
    • on leaving the patient bed space and ward/department
    • on leaving the hospital building
    • as soon as you get home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth or mask/face covering with unwashed hands.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.
  • Bring as few belongings as possible to minimise the risk of infection.
  • Ward staff will be wearing appropriate PPE.

This patient information leaflet gives more information. Social distancing patient information leaflet 170KB

As long as visiting guidance is followed, visitors do not need to self-isolate after a visit. If at any point you display symptoms of COVID-19 you should self-isolate at home and organise a test; members of their household should also self-isolate for 14 days.

Virtual visiting MY Loved Ones and virtual communication

The Trust understands the value and importance of ensuring that our patients can keep in touch with their loved ones. We will continue to encourage and support people to utilise other ways of keeping in touch with their loved ones in hospital, such as Family Liaison, supporting phone and video calls, the Message from home service and the Connecting Care hearts. Virtual visiting will be supported and facilitated through our MY Loved Ones initiative.

Visit our dedicated website page for more information on end of life care during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This guidance is based on the NHS ‘Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic: principles’ (CO751, 13 October 2020)