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Non-essential visiting still suspended in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside

Tuesday, 19 January, 2021

Northumbria Healthcare is to continue to suspend non-essential visiting in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside in an effort to further protect its patients and staff.

The trust is issuing a plea to the public to continue to follow these visiting rules to help keep everyone safe.

Visiting is only permitted in the following circumstances and the appropriate PPE must be worn:

  • For patients who are receiving end-of-life care or are terminally ill and in the late stages of their illness
  • For birthing partners in maternity units
  • For parents or legal guardians in the children’s unit
  • For long-stay patients and those with dementia or where best interest decisions or exceptional clinical/social matters are being discussed, at the discretion of the nurse in charge

Women can bring their birthing partners when attending 12 or 20-week scan appointments including all emergency assessments, all labour care and post-natal care until discharge ensuring they follow the strict guidelines in place in the post-natal area.

iPads will continue to be available on wards to facilitate ‘virtual’ visiting and friends and relatives will be able to stay connected to loved ones by ringing the trust’s patient line on 0191 293 4306, available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or sharing pictures/photos via patient.experience@nhct.nhs.uk. In addition, patients can make unlimited phone calls to UK landlines and mobiles free of charge via bedside units.

Anyone attending an outpatient or diagnostic appointment or for a minor injury, urgent care or in an emergency at hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is asked to do so alone, unless they need to be accompanied by a carer, to reduce footfall. People attending hospital sites are being reminded to wash their hands at the basins when entering and leaving, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Our hospitals and staff are under a lot of pressure and we need the support of the public. Although it is an incredibly difficult decision to suspend visiting, this is the right thing to do to protect our patients, staff and those in the community.

“As nurses, we know the positive impact seeing and hearing from loved ones can have on a patient and we would urge families to make use of the methods we have in place to facilitate virtual visiting and staying connected.

“The last ten months have has been a long and tiresome road for everyone, but with the vaccines now being rolled out there is light at the end of the tunnel. But, we are still working hard to fight this awful virus and we all need to continue to be vigilant in following the rules. Our actions now will impact what happens over the coming weeks.”

The trust is also reminding people not to just turn up to A&E, but to stop and think about using the correct service for their health care needs. Think GP, pharmacy and NHS 111 online first.

Marion Dickson continued: “There has been tremendous support from our communities throughout this pandemic whilst we have had these visiting restrictions in place and we would appeal to them again for their co-operation at this challenging time.”

The trust is also reminding people to:

  • Follow advice on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/if they have symptoms and not to attend A&E or hospital sites for a Covid-19 test.
  • Keep your distance and follow rules on social distancing – please stay apart 2 metres from others where possible. If it isn’t – one metre with mitigations such as a face covering.
  • Do not mix with people from outside your household or support bubble
  • Wear a face covering – especially in enclosed public spaces when social distancing can be difficult or when you are in contact with people you would not normally meet. This includes when you are using public transport, car sharing and using taxis. Please remember to wear a face covering if you are attending health care settings such as a hospital, clinic, GP surgery or pharmacist.
  • Keep those hands extra clean – wash hands for 20 seconds and often. Use soap and water to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. It is especially important to do this when you:
  • get home or into work
  • blow your nose or sneeze
  • eat or handle food or drinks

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

If you have symptoms, you are advised to get a test and stay at home. For more information visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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