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Relaxing inpatient visiting restrictions

Acute and community hospitals across County Durham and Darlington have announced that from Tuesday 22 November, some of the visitor restrictions are being further relaxed.

Visiting is very important to the well-being of our patients and their loved ones and is a key part of patient-centered care and we know that a lack of visiting can cause distress. We are pleased to be able to further relax some of these restrictions.

The reintroduction of visiting in a managed, appointment based way has worked well across our hospital sites.

The relaxation of current restrictions will be gradual given that while community prevalence of COVID-19 has declined, it is still in general circulation along with other respiratory infections which are on the rise.

We all know how quickly infection rates can change so we'll keep a close eye on these to keep patients, our staff - and the wider community - as safe as possible.

The following will replace existing restrictions, effective from Tuesday 22 November:

•         Adults: to continue with an appointment based system but increase visiting entitlement to up to two hours per day, split into two, one hour slots, with two visitors permitted per slot.  Different visitors would be permitted for each slot.  Visitors would still be required to pre-book using the current system.

•         Paediatrics: As per current visiting rules.

•         Labour wards: up to two birthing partners in attendance throughout labour.

•         Antenatal and post-natal in-patients:

o        one partner from 10.00am until 8.00pm,

o        family time:  2.00pm-4.00pm and 6.00pm-8.00pm.  In addition to a partner, during these times an additional two visitors (one of whom can be a sibling) - with a maximum of three persons per bed during this time.

•         Neonates: Two visitors per baby at one time (One parent and one other family member). The second visitor can swap and change.

•         Patients receiving End of Life care and their families.  These situations will be managed on a case by case basis with the nurse in charge using discretion to negotiate visiting patterns, balancing compassion with the infection control risk.

Our 'Ask to Mask' posters will be displayed prominently so patients and families know they can ask those caring for them to wear masks.

Please be kind to our colleagues when they are making arrangements with you, they are following our guidelines to help protect all patients.

We are incredibly grateful for the continued support, patience and understanding from our local communities as we take these cautious steps forward.

'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we have this service at all and well done to you all.'

Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital