Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government guidance on Covid-19

Guidance on visiting patients during the Covid-19 pandemic

Important information:

With high numbers of COVID-19 cases in our local communities, and a growing number of positive patients in our hospital, we regret that it is necessary to stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances) in order to protect patients, staff and visitors.

Visitors will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, including:

  • for a patient at end of life
  • one regular carer for a patient with additional needs, such as a patient with dementia
  • one parent/guardian for a child
  • one birth partner

Any visitors who are allowed must:

  • not come to the hospital if you are feeling unwell, including cold or flu symptoms
  • wash or gel your hands and put on a new mask as soon as you enter a ward or unit
  • follow the additional measures that will be requested by our staff if you are visiting a patient with an infection.

Exceptional circumstances

Visiting a patient at our hospitals within inpatient settings remains restricted, however, it is authorised at times of exceptional circumstances:

  • partners of women requiring support during labour
  • a family member for individuals receiving end-of-life care
  • a familiar carer/parent or guardian/supporter/personal assistant - including both parents/guardians where the family bubble can be maintained. Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist their communication and/or to meet their health, religious or spiritual care needs.

Where visiting is allowed, potential visitors should consider their own personal risk (and the risk of anyone in their bubble) of being severely affected by Covid-19 infection before deciding to visit.

Anyone showing any symptoms or signs of coronavirus, or those that have been advised to selfisolate, MUST NOT visit. The symptoms and signs are new continuous cough or temperature ≥ 37.8°C or loss of, or change in, normal sense of smell or taste. If you are visiting

  • You MUST wear a face covering throughout the visit: Ensure a fresh mask is worn when entering and leaving the ward area and moving through the hospital.
  • Arrange to be driven to and from the hospital by a member of your household: Minimise the risk of exposure to others by avoiding using public transport – especially after the visit.
  • Ensure personal belongings are kept to a minimum: such as bags, handbags, electronic devices, gifts and food for the patient
  • Remove outer clothing: coat, roll up their sleeves & clean your hands.
  • You must wear Personal protective equipment (PPE): Visitors will be required to wear the same PPE as staff in any given clinical setting. Visitors are advised to go to the toilet and have a small drink before putting on PPE to avoid needing to remove it before the visit is complete. Staff will show visitors what PPE they need to use (for patients in an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP) area this will be full PPE), staff will also assist as a buddy showing the visitor how to put it on and how to take it off. Staff will help the visitor to ensure that the FFP3 Mask fits adequately (fit check) and will provide the visitor with the Visitor Leaflet
  • Visitors to a non-AGP area do not need to self-isolate following the visit as by performing stringent hand hygiene and by complying with required PPE they are unlikely to present a risk to those they encounter. Those attending a GP area will have a slightly higher risk of exposure to Covid-19 and so will be advised to self-isolate according to national guidance.
  • Number of visitors is limited to 1-2 people at any one time: Families need to agree between themselves the most appropriate relatives to visit and communicate to other family members. In very exceptional circumstances and in collaboration with ward staff further family members may be allowed to rotate but this is NOT to exceed four members rotating.
  • Length of visit should be kept to minimum: Risk of developing Covid-19 after exposure varies with length of time of exposure (how long the visit lasts) and with certain clinical conditions (such as size of room, flow rate of the oxygen that a patient is receiving, whether or not a patient is intubated or receiving CPAP). If patients are intubated or receiving CPAP, there is a much higher risk to visitors, visits should be limited to a maximum of one hour.

It will be documented in the patient notes that the visitor has been advised to consider their own risks in attending the hospital, that they have been provided with appropriate PPE and that they have been advised to self isolate in accordance with national guidance.

Virtual visits

Despite these measures, the risk of contracting Covid-19 during a visit remains. Where relatives choose not to visit, and or where a face-to-face visit is not practical, then virtual visits through the use of smart phones or i-pads can be supported and facilitated.


Any further questions should be directed to the ward manager or matron for the area. The ward manager and consultant responsible for the patient can use their discretion to allow visiting depending on clinical circumstances. If necessary they can escalate to the relevant divisional director, medical director or executive member of staff on call.

Pausing planned procedures and out-patient appointments

In response to the on-going Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the increasing need for us to care for patients requiring urgent, emergency or Covid-19 care, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily pause the majority of non-urgent, time critical planned procedures/operations and out-patient services.

If you are affected by this decision, please be assured that we will contact you directly as soon as possible. We know this will be disappointing news for those waiting for planned treatment, and we are sorry for this.

If you do not hear from us, your appointment will still go ahead as planned. Please keep these appointments, our onsite services are safe to attend. (During your visit please wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.) Urgent and emergency care, including cancer treatments will continue. If you experience any symptoms that concern you, we urge you to speak to your GP and seek the care you need.

Why are you cancelling operations or appointments?

As more people require care for COVID-19, it’s essential for us to free up vital clinical staff to support areas of our hospitals that need it most during this challenging time. We know how disappointing this will be for patients who have been waiting, and we are sorry if you are affected by this decision.

Do you know when I might be rescheduled?

Unfortunately at this time, we are not able to advise when you might be rescheduled. We will be reviewing this decision on an on-going basis, and you will be contacted as soon as it is possible for us to see you.

This is not the first time my operation/appointment has already been postponed – will I be prioritised when the service is up and running again?

We are really sorry for your experience. We are continuing to see and treat patients with the most urgent clinical need. When our services resume, patients will be seen in order of clinical priority.

I haven’t been contacted – should I still attend the hospital?

If you have not been advised of any changes to your operation/procedure/appointment, please attend your appointment as planned.

Can I still access the hospital in an emergency?

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a serious or life threatening emergency (for example symptoms of a heart attack or stroke) you must dial 999 immediately. If you require urgent care, please call NHS 111 first.

I would like to give feedback or raise a concern. Who can I speak to?

We encourage you to get in touch with us if you have any feedback or a concern. Our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) is also available to support you should you need it.

Vaccine and Easy Read information

  • Covid-19 Classified Vulnerable (CCV) Patients 113 KB (pdf)
  • Covid-19 infection, pregnancy and birth

    Click here for our up-to-date information for pregnant women and their families.


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