Change in visiting policy at some Suffolk and north Essex hospitals

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich Hospital, is treating fewer Covid patients than last week

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has announced a change in its visiting policy - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Patients in some Suffolk and north Essex hospitals will be able to have multiple visitors for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

In line with new national guidance, two people will be able to visit a patient at hospitals run by the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) 24 hours after they have been admitted.

The changes come into effect from tomorrow, Thursday, March 17. 

The time as visitors can stay on the wards will also increase from one hour to two to allow visits to be staggered throughout the day. 

Visiting slots must still be booked in advance. 

This does not apply to visiting in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end-of-life care, where more open visiting is in place.

More flexible visiting for carers is also allowed. Carers may stay with a patient as needed and be substituted by a visitor.

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The Trust’s existing policy of up to three people being able to see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay still applies – only two out of the three visitors may visit the ward together though.

Anyone showing any symptoms of Covid-19 is asked not to visit hospitals to stop the spread of the virus. 

ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme said: “We hope this change to allow more people to visit the wards at one time – and for longer – will aid patients’ recoveries by supporting their mental and physical health, and reassure their loved ones too. We understand how worrying it is when someone you love is in hospital.

Nick Hulme has urged everyone to continue playing their part in the struggle against covid.

ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“However, patients in hospital can be more vulnerable to severe illness because of Covid-19, so that’s why we still need to have some visiting restrictions in place at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, and in our community hospitals too.

“This update to our visiting policy reflects that we are still managing the risk of Covid-19, but at the same time recognising the huge contribution visiting makes to the wellbeing of our patients and their families.”

More information on the change in visiting policy can be found on the trust's website