Visiting at hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex is still suspended due to current Covid levels, three weeks after restrictions were introduced.

The trusts running Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals and West Suffolk Hospital have both decided the restrictions need to continue for the rest of this week, with further reviews planned early next week.

There are exceptions for end-of-life and maternity care, and for those who are parents of children or in a caring role for a patient with learning disabilities or severe dementia.

Visiting was suspended at all Suffolk hospitals for three weeks from October 27 due to a rise in Covid infections.

And visiting at north Essex hospitals, including Colchester, Clacton and Harwich, was suspended from October 29, initially for two weeks.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, said: “Our infection prevention and control committee has carefully reviewed the temporary suspension of a large majority of visiting in our hospitals.

“While the number of Covid-19 infections remains high in our communities, and a higher number of people with the virus are inpatients in our hospitals, we will not be making any changes or reintroducing restricted visiting just yet. This is so we can continue to keep everyone safe.

“Visiting will remain suspended for the rest of this week and will be reviewed again early next week, in line with local infection rates and hospital admissions.

"Any changes to our visiting policy will be made as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We’d like to thank our communities for their patience and understanding as we work hard to keep everyone – patients, visitors and staff – safe in our hospitals.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Daniel Spooner, deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.Daniel Spooner, deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. (Image: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust)

Dan Spooner, deputy chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since putting into place the temporary suspension of visitors at our hospitals three weeks ago, we have continued to monitor and review the situation.

“Due to the high number of Covid-19 infections in our community as well as the number of inpatients with the virus, we are not yet in a position to relax the suspension and will review the situation again early next week.

“Our priority, as always, is keeping our vulnerable patients as safe as possible. We know how important visiting loved-ones is and we have not taken this decision lightly.

"Relatives can use our dedicated helpline and video calling services to keep in touch with patients while they are in our care."