Published on: 17 September 2021
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is safely easing some of its visitor restrictions next week 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 in in July 2021 due to the rising cases of COVID-19 and increase in patients being admitted with serious illness. However, the success of the vaccine programme has meant that 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 (20th September), adult inpatients will be able to have one named person visit them through a bookable appointment system. Pregnant women will also now be able to be accompanied by one person during all antenatal appointments and have one person 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 that only those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 visit patients as community infections are still high across South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Visitors are also asked 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.
Restrictions remain in place across some areas of the hospitals in South Tyneside and Sunderland, including:
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.
Elaine Coghill, Deputy Chief Nurse at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know that visiting is really important to our patients and their families, but we cannot forget that we are still in a global pandemic and we need to take a safe and cautious approach to allowing visitors back into our hospitals.
“Spending time with loved ones is important for the recovery of our patients and undoubtedly has a positive effect on their mental wellbeing. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back, but do ask that they take all necessary precautions. This includes having both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and taking a home test before coming into our buildings.
“We are also asking all visitors to wear personal protective equipment, 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.
Symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, new continuous cough and a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must isolate immediately and call 119 and arrange for a test.
If you develop symptoms you will be required to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation is available on the NHS website.