The NHS in Gloucestershire is easing some of the restrictions around visiting hospitals as part of the next phase of COVID-19 planning.
The restrictions, which were implemented in March to limit the spread of the virus and protect patients, staff and visitors, stopped all visits* during the peak of the pandemic.
Now, from 8 July 2020, a limited number of visits will be permitted, as long as visitors adhere to specific guidelines which include wearing a face covering and maintaining two metre social distancing.
Visitors are also asked to speak to ward staff to arrange visits in advance.
Professor Steve Hams, Director of Quality and Chief Nurse at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that manages Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital said:
“Our number one priority throughout the pandemic has been the health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, and we are grateful to relatives, friends and carers for respecting and understanding the visiting restrictions over the past few weeks which we know have been difficult for many.
“Although we are easing the strict measures which have been in place, we are asking visitors to be cautious and to follow the new guidelines very carefully. We don’t impose restrictions lightly, but believe they are necessary to keep our patients, visitors and staff as safe as possible from the risk of infection.
“Where possible, we continue to encourage relatives and friends to think about staying in touch with loved ones in other ways, for example, by video call; our hospital staff will be happy to help facilitate this.”
John Trevains, Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the county’s community hospitals as well as the mental health and learning disability units, added:
“We are pleased to be able to start welcoming a limited number of visitors back and we fully appreciate how hard it is to keep in touch with loved ones who are in hospital with restrictions in place.
“Whilst the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall across the county, we need to remain vigilant and lift the restrictions gradually to ensure that we can continue to care for our patients safely.
“I’d like to remind all visitors to remember to wear a face covering at all times within the grounds of the hospitals and to maintain two metre social distancing. Our Trust has also put arrangements in place to support ‘virtual visiting’ and we appreciate that many people will prefer to keep in touch with relatives in this way for the time being.”
The updated restrictions will apply to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) and seven community hospitals in the county:
- The Dilke (Cinderford)
- North Cotswolds (Moreton-in-Marsh)
- The Vale (Dursley)
They are also applicable to the county’s mental health and learning disability inpatient units:
- Wotton Lawn (Gloucester)
- Charlton Lane (Cheltenham)
- Berkeley House (Stroud)
- Laurel House (Cheltenham)
- Honeybourne (Cheltenham)
The following new restrictions will take effect from 8 July.
All visitors must:
- wear a face covering
- maintain two metre social distancing at all times
- follow infection control advice from ward staff
- visitors are asked to speak to ward staff before planning a visit to schedule their visit
Visiting hours at Cheltenham General Hospital, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and the Community Hospitals are restricted to 2pm – 6pm, seven days a week.
- Only one visitor (a close family member or carer) may visit for one hour per day
- Bays with four or six beds will be limited to two visitors at any one time
Those who should NOT visit the hospitals:
- People with a fever, cough, shortness of breath
- People with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting (existing/permanent advice)
- Children and young people under the age of 16
- People over the age of 70 and/or with a long term health condition are advised to carefully consider their health and wellbeing and speak to ward staff before planning a visit
Maternity wards and units
- One person may attend scan appointments with the mother from mid-July
- One person will be able to accompany women in labour (please be aware that they may be asked to leave the area if additional healthcare staff are needed to assist with the birth)
- One partner may be present at the start of an induction on the maternity ward for one and a half hours
- After birth, one visitor is permitted to visit for one hour per day
Children’s Ward at GRH
Open visiting which can be arranged with the nurse in charge, with the following restrictions:
- Two visitors per child at any one time
- Visiting to children’s wards is restricted to parents/ carers only
- No siblings or other family members should visit
- Two visitors are allowed on the neonatal ward at any one time
Mental health and Learning Disability services
- One visitor may visit for one hour per day
- Recognising the particular complexity of mental health and learning disability services and the need for human contact in many therapies, additional visiting may be arranged where the welfare and well-being of the individual would be at risk if visiting was restricted; a local protocol which includes wearing a face covering and 2 metre social distancing will be followed for these situations
Exceptions may be made for relatives hoping to visit on compassionate grounds. These visitors are being asked to telephone the ward and speak to staff if they wish to visit outside the specified hours.