Patient visiting rules tightened in Lincolnshire hospitals due to heightened Covid threat

Patient visiting restrictions will again be tightened in Lincolnshire's main hospitals from Thursday December 16.

Hospital patient visiting has been restricted.
Hospital patient visiting has been restricted.

These changes mean that general visiting will be restricted, but will be fully supported for maternity, paediatrics, neonates and other exceptional cases, say bosses at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

These changes are in response to the COVID-19 level 4 threat that was announced by the Chief Medical Officer’s office on Sunday, which sees all NHS Trusts acting under protocols adapted for a national incident.

In order to protect patients and staff, the Trust has made the decision to restrict general visiting, with some exceptions.

These changes will help to restrict footfall within its hospitals and wards which will massively reduce the risk that COVID-19 continues to present to patients who are vulnerable, especially through the Omicron variant.

These changes will be reviewed on a regular basis, says the Trust.

The Trust has used patient and staff feedback to ensure that it can continue to support visiting for maternity, paediatrics and neonates which is carefully monitored and has remained in place for some time. Visitors who have loved ones who are towards the end of life will be fully supported to visit where this is safe to do so. There is also support for special circumstances such as patients with dementia or with specific special needs where visits and support may significantly benefit patient recovery. Highly unusual circumstances will also be considered.

Visiting exceptions:

Compassionate grounds:

Visiting patients who are towards the end of life

Other exceptional circumstances for those who act as a carer and can support a patient’s recovery (for e.g. dementia, learning disabilities, autism, mental health).

Maternity:

· The maternity department can support 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.

Further guidance is available on the Trust’s website about exceptional circumstances – visit: https://www.ulh.nhs.uk/patients/information-for-visitors/, to find out more.

Director of Nursing for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “Restricting visiting is one of the measures we are taking to protect our patients and staff as the threat level from the new COVID-19 variant Omicron needs to be carefully managed.

“We know that this decision will be upsetting for those who have loved ones in hospital, especially over the Christmas period, but we must prioritise the safety of our patients and staff at this time and do not take these decisions lightly.

“Please be kind and understanding with our teams who are going above and beyond to care for their patients.

“We have put in place some exceptions and our ward teams will work with families and carers to ensure access is available in the right circumstances.

“Wards will be offering the opportunity for families to talk to relatives via Skype or FaceTime where possible. Loved ones can also take advantage of the ‘Letter to a Loved One’ scheme, full details are available on our website.

“Please bear with us whilst we continue to ensure the safety of our patients as well as our staff.”

More information on video calling can be found of the Trust’s website: https://www.ulh.nhs.uk/patients/information-for-visitors/video-calling/More information on the ‘Letter to a Loved One’ initiative can be found on the Trust’s website: https://www.ulh.nhs.uk/patients/information-for-visitors/letters-to-loved-ones/