Hospitals suspend visiting as Covid cases continue to surge

ESNEFT, which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has announced a change in its visiting policy

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

Most ward visiting is being suspended again at some Suffolk and north Essex hospitals as Covid cases continue to surge in the community.

Hospitals run by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation (ESNEFT) announced the changes, which come into affect from Wednesday, March 23. 

The decision has been made due to the increasing number of patients being treated with Covid-19 in the trust's hospital, following a rapid rise in the number of infections in the community. 

This will affect Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital, Harwich, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital and Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich.

It comes soon after the trust changed their visiting policy to allow more visitors onto their wards at the beginning of the month

Nick Hulme, chief executive at ESNEFT, said: “Making this decision so soon after we opened visiting further is disappointing for us all, but it goes to show how fast the virus is spreading again and that Covid-19 has not gone away. It’s still very real for everyone working in our hospitals.

“Any decision to suspend visiting in our hospitals is carefully considered. It does not get any easier and it’s never a decision we take lightly as we understand the impact it has had on patients and their families throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We know the support of friends and family is key to helping a patient on the road to recovery, but our priority is to keep everyone safe in our hospitals. We will be keeping a very close eye on the situation, and we will share any news on changes to our visiting policy as quickly as we can.”

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Some exceptions will apply, and more open visiting will remain in place for:

  • End-of-life care
  • Those in formal caring roles who support someone with learning disabilities or severe dementia, for example
  • Parents/carers of children: One parent/carer may visit a child in hospital, this includes staying overnight. A parent/carer may substitute each other
  • Maternity: One birthing partner (this is being temporarily reduced from two) may attend the delivery of a baby, and only that person may visit antenatal/postnatal wards between 8am and 8pm.

The situation will be kept under close and regular review by the Trust’s Infection Prevention and Control team, in line with hospital admissions and community COVID-19 infection rates.