Visiting rules at hospitals are being changed as a result of rising COVID cases.
The Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in King’s Lynn is only allowing visitors in for ‘exceptional circumstances’ while United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) which runs Boston Pilgrim Hospital and Lincoln County Hospital says it “is taking a new risk-based approach to patient visiting to maximise visiting opportunities whilst keeping staff and patients safe”.
All ULHT inpatient areas are currently given a classification of low, medium and high risk, reflecting patient conditions and infection prevention and control measures.
For each level, different visiting arrangements will be in place from this week. This will be determined at individual patient level, depending upon their risk rating and the risk level of the areas they are residing in.
Director of Nursing at ULHT, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “We are aware that changes in COVID case numbers in our area have resulted in relatively regular changes to our visiting policies over the last 18 months.
“As we move forward, we wanted to have a process in place that is clear for everyone, and is able to ‘flex’ depending upon the patient and ward area, rather than keep changing our visiting policy.
“This approach means that we will be able to maintain a consistent approach to visiting over the coming months, as areas, and individual patients, can move between risk ratings.
“We feel this will be the best approach to ensure we maximise visiting opportunities for those who are being cared for in low risk areas, whilst ensuring we keep our patients, staff and visitors safe.”
There may be local rules in place in individual areas, depending upon the environment, and patients and visitors are asked to speak to the ward directly for information.
Exceptions remain in place for maternity, paediatrics and neonatal services, as detailed below:
• The maternity department will allow one birthing partner to attend the birth and a partner to visit women and their baby either antenatal or postnatal
• Visiting hours on maternity wards is 1pm-7pm
• Children are still not able to attend the hospitals to visit patients at this time
• Partners can attend all hospital maternity appointments
• Women and partners are encouraged to perform lateral flow tests prior to appointments.
Paediatrics and neonatal services:
• Parents who do not show the symptoms of infection can visit their children on children’s wards and neonatal units
• Parents with a baby in neonatal care have access 24 hours a day. This includes overnight stays where accommodation allows
• Any exceptions will be made on a case by case basis.
• Visiting end of life patients
• Other exceptional circumstances (for e.g. dementia, learning disabilities, autism, and mental health).
The Queen Elizabeth II meanwhile has experienced a number of cases at the start of this month.
Alice Webster, Chief Nurse at QEH, said: “Due to rising cases of COVID-19 in our community, we are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients at QEH.
“As a result, we have made the difficult decision to restrict visiting in order to keep our patients and their families safe.
“We know how important it is for our patients to receive visits from their loved ones, so we have made exemptions in exceptional circumstances. In these cases, relatives should make contact with the ward to make special arrangements.
“The safety of our patients and staff remains our top priority.”