Hospital visiting is to be reinstated for adult in-patient wards, two months after its suspension due to Covid.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is safely easing some of its visitor restrictions from Monday March 7th by introducing a booking system on its adult inpatient wards to allow patients to have precious time with their loved ones.
The Trust took the very difficult decision to temporarily suspend some visiting at the start of January due to the rising cases of COVID-19 and increase in patients being admitted with serious illness.
However, due to falling numbers of community infections and the success of the booster programme, the Trust is able to start re-introducing some visiting at its three main hospital sites and Intermediate Care and Rehabilitation (ICAR) Unit based at Houghton Primary Care Centre.
From Monday, adult inpatients will be able to have one named person visit them through a bookable appointment system. Pregnant women continue to be able to be accompanied by one person during all antenatal appointments and will be able to have two birthing partners with them during labour and delivery.
Visitors will be asked to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including face mask, gloves and apron during their visit and must follow guidance around hand washing and social distancing to protect patients and staff. The Trust is also asking only those who have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (two doses and booster) to visit patients as the virus is still circulating in the community across South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Visitors are also encouraged to test themselves for COVID-19 at home before they come into the hospital, using testing kits widely available from local pharmacies, testing sites and the Government website.
Visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at end of life or to support carers provide essential support to patients with dementia or a learning disability, will continue as it has done throughout the pandemic and will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge.
In addition, the Trust has also eased some of the restrictions in place for patients coming in for routine appointments or urgent and emergency care. From Monday, anyone coming into the Trust’s urgent care or emergency departments can be accompanied by one other person. This is also the case for those attending outpatient departments. Children accessing hospital services can have both parents / carers with them.
The Trust will continue to provide virtual visiting via iPads for patients who do not have the means to contact family and friends and will continue to pass on messages, letters and photos through its #SendingLove scheme. Full details of the scheme can be found on the Trust website www.stsft.nhs.uk.
Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know how important spending time with loved ones is to our patients and the positive effect it can have on recovery and wellbeing. We are all looking forward to welcoming visitors back into our hospitals, but do ask that they follow the guidance we have set out. This includes wearing a facemask at all times in our buildings and following all of the guidance given to them by our team to help keep our patients and staff safe.
“We are also asking all visitors to wear personal protective equipment when on our wards, to wash their hands regularly and to stay away if they feel unwell in any way or have a member of their household with COVID-19. The pressures on our hospitals and community services are still significant and we must remember that we care for some of the sickest and most vulnerable people in our community. While we all want to return to some kind of normality, our absolute priority is to protect our patients and our staff.”
Details about visiting restrictions can be found at www.stsft.nhs.uk. The public are asked to wait until Saturday (March 5th) before contacting the Trust to book an appointment to visit.