Visitor ban due to COVID impact at Western Trust facilities to be reviewed tomorrow

The temporary ban on visiting patients to Western Trust hospitals and other facilities will remain in place until at least tomorrow (Wednesday) after it was extended at the weekend.

The emergency measure was first implemented on Wednesday of last week due to the escalation in COVID infections across the community and the knock-on impact on staffing.

Health chiefs in the Trust met on Friday to review the situation and decided that the restrictions should remain in place for now.

The announcement came after it emerged there were over a 1,100 new positive Covid cases in Derry & Strabane over the 24 hours to midnight on Thursday.

The new wing and entrance to Altnagelvin Hospital. DER2126GS - 135

A Trust spokesperson said the temporary suspension will be reviewed again tomorrow, Wednesday January 5.

There are however exceptional circumstances in which visiting can continue, including for birthing partners for our maternity patients and visiting for those receiving end-of-life care.

The spokesperson said: “The Western Trust would like to thank the public for their cooperation in relation to the recent changes to its visiting arrangements. The support of the public helps us to provide safer care for patients in our hospitals and facilities.

“Due to the continued pressures on the healthcare system and the high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, visiting remains suspended across our hospital sites and facilities.

“We would encourage the public to keep in contact with their loved ones via virtual visiting arrangements. A ‘virtual visit’ can be facilitated using a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

“The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for everyone, however we continue to act in the best interest of our patients and the general public. We ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times.”

APPEAL for staff

The Western Trust has issued a third urgent appeal in a week for nursing and other staff to help as the current rise in COVID numbers affects staffing levels at Altnagelvin.

In a post yesterday, the Trust said: “Our services at Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospitals are extremely challenged today. We are urgently appealing for any staff, registered or unregistered, based anywhere across the Trust who are free to come in and help out at this time.

“If you are free and are able to offer your support please contact (028) 6638 2000 and ask to speak to the senior on call manager.

“We are extremely busy across our Emergency Departments and throughout our hospitals. Maintaining our bed capacity across all our hospital settings in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital is crucial.

“We are looking in particular for staff Nurses (all bands) and Nursing and Care Assistants, Support Services staff and Housekeepers.”