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Visiting suspended at hospitals across County Durham and Darlington

In response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases across County Durham and today's Government announcement regarding local increased restriction measures, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is suspending visiting at all of its hospitals from 9am on Friday 18 September.

The numbers of cases across County Durham continue to rise and the Trust has therefore taken the difficult decision to reintroduce the suspension of visiting across all inpatient adult wards at the following hospitals:

  • University Hospital of North Durham
  • Bishop Auckland Hospital
  • Shotley Bridge Community Hospital
  • Chester-le-Street Community Hospital
  • Sedgefield Community Hospital
  • Weardale Community Hospital
  • Richardson Community Hospital
  • And, Darlington Memorial Hospital

The temporary suspension will be reintroduced from 9am on Friday 18 September to protect both staff and patients and the restrictions have been extended to include Darlington Memorial Hospital as some patients, who may live in County Durham, will have pathways of care which include an appointment or treatment at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The move also includes reintroducing restrictions on maternity services and while one birthing partner can continue to be present during labour, restrictions will now be back in place regarding the attendance of partners at scan appointments and visiting on post-natal wards.

Noel Scanlon, Executive Director of Nursing said: "We very much recognise this is not the news our patients and their loved ones will want to hear and it is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, we must act quickly and responsibly in light of the rising cases and the latest Government announcement to protect our workforce and our patients.

"Coronavirus has not gone away and it is so important that we all do our bit to protect ourselves and others, especially those who are the most vulnerable in our communities. Everyone should continue to follow the Government guidance which means washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or more, social distancing and wearing face masks or coverings to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. We would also ask that anyone feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of COVID-19 does not come into our hospitals but should arrange to be tested as soon as possible."

There are a few exemptions from the visiting suspension which are as follows:

  • Patients receiving end of life care (visiting arrangements will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge)
  • Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner
  • One parent or carer will be able to accompany children in our emergency departments, children's wards and neonatal units
  • Patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer will be able to have one person accompanying them 

Anyone attending an outpatient appointment and those coming into the Emergency Departments at University Hospital of North Durham or Darlington Memorial Hospital should attend alone, unless they are patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer and they will be able to have one person accompanying them. The public are reminded that they will need to wear a face mask or covering, practice good hand hygiene and maintain social distancing at all times.

Earlier in the year, the Trust was able to purchase a number of ipads through charitable funds and support from NHS Charities Together and these will continue to be used to help patients stay in touch with loved ones while the temporary restrictions are back in place. The Trust also has a 'stay in touch' messaging service which can be used by loved ones to send photos or messages to patients. More information is available on the Trust's website: 

Symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, new continuous cough and a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must isolate immediately and call 119 and arrange for a test.

If you develop symptoms your household contacts will also be required to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation is available on the NHS website


Published 17th September 2020

'I am writing to congratulate you on your wonderful staff you have working for you at DMH.'

Patient, Catering / Porters / Domestics, Darlington Memorial Hospital