Published on: 22 December 2022

Healthcare leaders at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are appealing to local people not to visit their loved ones in hospital if they feel unwell.

As the local NHS manages pressures over the festive holidays, people are being reminded not visit if:

  • they have a cough, cold or flu like symptoms
  • they have had sickness or diarrhoea in the past 48 hours
  • they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 7 days.

The appeal comes at the Trust manages an increase in patients with flu and other respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, who are being admitted to hospital.

Given the rise in winter viruses circulating, anyone coming in to visit patients at South Tyneside District Hospital or Sunderland Royal Hospital will be required to wear a facemask.  Visitors will be reminded to wash their hands thoroughly before and after they enter any wards or other clinical areas. 

The Trust is also asking people who need to attend hospital to only bring one other person with them, if possible.  This is to help stop the spread of winter illnesses.  To see the Trust’s visitor guidance click here.

Diane Palmer, Deputy Director of Nursing, said:

"We are appealing for everyone’s support as we are seeing lots of flu and other winter illnesses going around at the moment.

"If you do plan to visit a loved one in hospital over the coming days, please make sure you are fit and well yourself and make sure you wear a facemask.  

"The last thing we want is for any winter viruses to be passed onto our patients who are already very sick and in hospital this Christmas or to visitors.  We want to make sure our staff are protected too and you will see our teams wearing facemasks a lot more through this winter period."

The Trust is also reminding people of its ‘Sending Love’ service which helps you to stay connected with loved ones who are in hospital if you can’t visit. It allows you to send a written message or a photograph.  The Trust will then hand deliver your messages to your loved one to help you stay in touch. 

The initiative was first put in place during the pandemic and proved so successful that the Trust kept it in place to help people stay in touch even if they can’t visit.

To send a message, people can complete an online form (click here), email or post a letter / photograph to:

Communications Team #SendingLove
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
South Tyneside District Hospital
Harton Wing, Harton Lane
South Shields
NE34 0PL

You must include the patient’s full name, date of birth, ward name/department and which hospital they are in.  Sending Love deliveries run from Monday to Friday. If we receive your message on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be delivered on the following Monday. Please note that this service does not run on Bank Holidays such as Christmas Day/Boxing Day/New Year's Day.