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Visiting arrangements

UPDATED: Tuesday 10 May 2022

Current restrictions continue to apply other than the following, which are effective from Tuesday, 10 May 2022.

  • A patient no longer needs to nominate their visitors, meaning they can be visited by anyone they choose - this should still be pre-arranged and by appointment with the ward clerk only.
  • Visitors should be asked not to attend if feeling unwell.
  • Paediatric visiting continues as per the current arrangements but with the addition of siblings.
  • This can be up to a maximum of two visitors, together, up to one hour per day.
  • Patients in post-natal maternity wards, who are in hospital for over 24 hours, can now have two visitors for up to two hours.  This is increased from one hour and still needs to be per-arranged and by appointment only.

Please note the following:

  • Paediatric assessment area visiting also remains unchanged with one parent accompanying a child.

We continue to balance a cautious approach to visiting with the clear benefits to patients from contact with those they're close to.

We will continue to monitor and consider this position to look at the possible, safe reintroduction of all visiting and how this would be managed.


UPDATED: Friday 1 April 2022

From Friday, 1 April visitors to our hospitals, including women and their birth partners attending for routine antenatal care and end of life visitors will no longer be required to be tested and will also no longer be required to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test before visiting. If visitors are feeling unwell and have any Covid symptoms we ask that you do not visit.

Women admitted to a labour ward or setting should be tested as soon as is practical, at the hospital site using PCR or rapid tests. Their birth partners will not be tested but must not attend if symptomatic. If you are feeling unwell or have any covid symptoms we ask that all visitors do not visit.

At this time, there is no change in our visitor policy which remains as it was from Wednesday 16 March, further details below. Visiting is still not permitted in Covid wards, outbreak areas, elective wards, emergency departments and AMUs.

There are no changes proposed to these departments where a resident parent and one other visitor may already attend.

Thank you for the continued support, patience and understanding as we take these cautious steps forward.

 

UPDATED: Wednesday 16 March 2022

From Wednesday 16 March, patients will be able to have two visitors per day, for up to one hour, by appointment and booked in advance through the ward clerk.

This applies to most of our adult inpatient wards, visitors will still not be allowed on COVID-19 and outbreak wards for obvious reasons.

We continue to encourage visitors to be double and booster vaccinated and provide evidence of a negative  LFT before visiting.

Please don't visit our hospitals if you feel unwell.

Maternity services:

  • Women having antenatal scans will be able to be accompanied by their chosen support person
  • Women in labour will be able to have two birthing partners
  • Post-natal visiting is now open to two named indiviudals for an hour appointment and this should be pre-booked
  • We will stull ask visitors to have a negative PCR test / Cepheid test prior to attending labour / evidence of a negative LFT before post-natal visiting

Children's wards and Neonatology departments: A resident parent / carer and one other visitor may attend. Resident parents are subject to daily LFT. We encourage other visitors to  be double and booster vaccinated and provide evidence of a negative LFT before visiting

Out patients, diagnostics and Emergency departments:

We would still ask patients to attend alone where possible. However, there are some exceptions to that. Patients with communication difficulties, those that are hard of hearing or who have sight impairment, we of course want someone with them to help keep them safe and to ensure any messages from our clinical staff can be understood. Exception can also continue to be made where the appointment will involve breaking bad news - at the discretion of medical and nursing staff.

Thank you for your the continued support, patience and understanding as we take these cautious steps forward.

 

UPDATED: Monday 28 February 2022

From Tuesday 1 March, patients will be able to have one named designated visitor per day, for up to an hour, by appointment, booked in advance by the ward clerk. This will also apply to young patients on our children's wards, in addition to the resident parent or carer already permitted. Keeping the numbers of people coming into our buildings to a minimum is still important so, for example, it won't be possible for two family members to each visit for 30 minutes. Visitors will also be able to use the restaurants and coffee shops on all sites.

Visitors will still not be allowed on COVID-19 and outbreak wards for obvious reasons, or our emergency departments and acute medical units where social distancing is hard to control.

There are some exemptions to the existing visiting restrictions which are listed below and which will continue:

  • Patients receiving end of life care
  • Patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer
  • Where visiting will support discharge or the mental wellbeing of a patient this may also be arranged at the discretion of the ward manager/nurse in charge.

In women's and children's departments:

  • Women having antenatal scans will be able to be accompanied by their chosen support person
  • Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner
  • A daily postnatal visit by chosen support person
  • One parent or carer will be able to accompany children in our emergency departments, children's wards and neonatal units.

In our outpatient departments we are asking that patients please come for their appointments unaccompanied. However, there are some exceptions to that. Patients with communication difficulties, those that are hard of hearing or who have sight impairment, we of course want someone with them to help keep them safe and to ensure any messages from our clinical staff can be understood. Exception can also continue to be made where the appointment will involve breaking bad news - at the discretion of medical and nursing staff.

Visitors will notice social distancing measures in place, including directional guidance in corridors and a maximum of two people in lifts. Hospital grade face masks are still required in all public areas in our hospital and are available at our entrances. We also strongly encourage the use of hand gel which is also available at entrances, wards and bedsides. It's really important everyone works with us and complies with these measures, including social distancing, to minimise the risk of infection.

We also continue to ask families to leave items for patients, other than valuables, with our reception teams, rather than taking them to wards themselves.  Our porters are delivering items as soon as possible on the same day.

We'll continue to help patients have virtual visits, using iPads which are available on wards.

Before visitors come to any of our hospitals we would like to remind them of the following:

  • Visitors are encouraged to be double-vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the visit and where possible have also had their COVID-19 booster vaccine
  • Visitors will be required to produce evidence of a negative lateral flow test undertaken on the same day, prior to the visit, such as a dated photograph of the test strip or screenshot from the NHS app. This includes resident parents who will have to undertake a lateral flow test every day
  • Visits can only take place by appointment with the Ward clerk and will be limited to one hour per patient per day.

We will continue to monitor and consider this position to look at the possible, safe reintroduction of all visiting and how this would be managed. Please be kind to our colleagues when they are making arrangements with you, they are following our guidelines to help protect all patients.

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


UPDATED: Monday 21 January 2022

Due to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases we have made the extremely difficult decision to temporarily suspend visiting to adult inpatient wards within County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, effective immediately.

Restricting visiting is not an easy decision, but we need to act to help protect our patients and our workforce.

We very much recognise the many benefits visitors can bring to a patient's care and wellbeing; but we must also maintain our duty of care to protect our own people and all patients by minimising the risk of the spread of infection. We know this is very difficult for loved ones. We have iPads available on our wards so patients can be visited virtually and messages and photographs can also be shared through our popular 'Stay in Touch' scheme.

We do have some exceptions to visiting restrictions in place which are listed below:

  • Patients receiving end of life care
  • Women having antenatal scans will be able to be accompanied by their chosen support person
  • Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner
  • A daily postnatal visit by chosen support person
  • 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
  • Where visiting will support discharge or the mental wellbeing of a patient this may also be arranged at the discretion of the ward manager/nurse in charge

Visitors:

  • are encouraged to be double-vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the visit and where possible have also had their COVID-19 booster vaccine
  • will be required to produce evidence of a negative lateral flow test undertaken on the same day, prior to the visit, such as a dated photograph of the test strip or screenshot from the NHS app. This includes resident parents who will have to undertake a lateral flow test every day
  • Visits can only take place by appointment with the Ward clerk and will be limited to one hour per patient per day.

 

We will continue to monitor and consider this position to look at the possible, safe reintroduction of visiting and how this would be managed. Current restrictions will remain in place while community prevalence, hospital admissions and outbreaks remain high. Please be kind to our colleagues when they are making arrangements with you, they are following our guidelines to help protect all patients.

 

 

UPDATED: Wednesday 3 November 2021

We would like to thank our local communities for their support over the past 18 months and once again ask for your support.

We have listened to feedback from loved ones and in response we will be re-introducing visiting from Wednesday 3rd November.

We know that having loved ones visit brings many positive benefits to a patient's recovery and well-being however we need your help to be able to do this safely.

So, to help us protect our workforce and all patients:

  • We are asking that each patient only has one named visitor and that they visit for one hour a day
  • Visitors should wear hospital supplied masks and follow all IPC guidance including minimising as far as possible close physical contact with loved ones
  • Visitors are encouraged to be double-vaccinated and to have a negative lateral flow test before coming in to one of our hospitals
  • Visitors need to book an appointment with the ward clerk of the ward where the loved one is being cared for

There are some wards and departments where visiting is still restricted to maintain safety and protection of patients, these include:

  • ITU
  • Emergency Departments
  • Acute Medical Units - ward 4 at Durham and ward 34 at Darlington
  • Dedicated covid wards (ward 6 at Durham)
  • Elective surgery wards - ward 15 at Durham and wards 11, 14 at Darlington and ward 18 at Bishop Auckland
In the event of a covid outbreak in a ward or department, visiting would then be fully restricted while we manage that outbreak.
Please be kind to our colleagues when they are making arrangements with you. They are following our guidelines to help protect all patients.

 

UPDATED: Tuesday 6 July 2021

Visiting restrictions across our adult inpatient wards have been reintroduced. County Durham now has one of the highest community rates of COVID-19. Restricting visiting is not an easy decision, but we need to act to help protect our patients and our workforce.

We very much recognise the many benefits visitors can bring to a patient's care and wellbeing but we must also maintain our duty of care to protect our own people and all patients by minimising the risk of the spread of infection. Weekly consideration is being given to this position to look at possible, safe re-introduction and how this would be managed. Current restrictions will remain in place while community prevalence, hospital admissions & outbreaks remain high.

We know this is very difficult for loved ones. We do have some exceptions in place which are listed below. If you have any concerns then please discuss them with the ward manager.

We have ipads available on our wards so you can visit virtually with loved ones and you can also send messages and photographs through our 'Stay in Touch' scheme.

Exceptions to visiting restrictions:

  • Patients receiving end of life care
  • 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
  • Where visiting will support discharge or the mental wellbeing of a patient this can also be arranged at the discretion of the ward manager/nurse in charge


Reviewed: Monday 20 September, 2021

 

Published: May 2021

As tentative steps out of lockdown continue, we are easing some of the visitor restrictions introduced last year to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Introducing restrictions on our patients receiving visitors  was a very difficult decision, made in response to both very worrying Covid infection rates locally, and national guidance.  We know this hasn't been easy for patients and their loved ones, so we're absolutely delighted that, from today, we're able to begin lifting restrictions.  Of course, 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.

From Monday 17 May, and in line with step three of the national lockdown easing, patients will be able to have one visitor per day, for up to an hour.

This will also apply to young patients on our children's wards, in addition to the resident parent or carer already permitted.

Keeping the numbers of people coming into our buildings to a minimum is still important so, for example, it won't be possible for two family members to each visit for 30 minutes.

Visits will also need to be booked in advance with the ward team.

Our maternity, post-natal and neonatal teams are also relaxing some restrictions - we ask people to contact their midwife or ask ward staff for details. CLICK HERE for more information.

Emergency Departments and Urgent Treatment Centres: Currently patients need to attend alone.  Due to the increasing demand on these departments, this restriction will remain in place until there is no longer a requirement to socially distance, other than for patients who meet the agreed national recommendations exceptions.
Exceptions are in place for patients with:
  • Learning disabilities
  • Dementia
  • Patients where their condition is such that the doctor has made a decision to commence the end of life pathway.
  • Children (who can be accompanied by one parent)
  • Patients assessed on attendance as needing increased support from a relative or friend due to mental health issues in crisis.
Outpatients appointments: patients attending for outpatient appointments should continue attending alone.  Exceptions are patients with dementia, a learning disability, autism or difficulty communicating.  Exception can also continue to be made where the appointment will involve breaking bad news - at the discretion of medical and nursing staff.
We're incredibly grateful for the continued support, patience and understanding from our local communities as we take these cautious steps forward.

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham