Hospital visiting guidance updated

The Western Trust has announced that it will continue with visiting to hospital sites restricted to one visit, for one hour per day per patient.

Exceptions will also continue to apply in some areas and all temporary visiting restrictions will be reviewed again on Monday, May 9, with an update to follow then as the Trust plan to implement a phased return to full visiting arrangements across all health care facilities in the months ahead.

A statement said COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in the community and the Western Trust continues to deal with challenges and pressures on hospitals.

It added: “Staff absences due to Covid-19 and other sickness together with a sustained number of Covid-19 patients and Covid-19 outbreaks in our hospitals must continue to be managed.

Altnagelvin Hospital

“The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending.

“This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting. Please remember to wear a face covering which covers your nose and mouth at all times when you are visiting, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.”

Hospital guidelines mean that one visitor (from two nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day per patient.

The Trust statement added: “Do not attend any Western Trust hospital or facility if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.

“All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times.

“Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.”

Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.

There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care.

The Trust said: “We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.”

The Trust urged everyone to respect staff, adding: “For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

“We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.”

Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/western-trust-covid19-visiting-guidance/