Hospital visiting suspended in Essex as Covid rates rise

The new entrance to Colchester Hospital. Picture: HOLLY HUME

ESNEFT has confirmed visiting will be suspended at Colchester, Clacton and Harwich hospitals. Pictured: Colchester hospital. - Credit: Archant

Visiting is to be suspended at Colchester, Clacton and Harwich hospitals later this week due to the high number of Covid infections in the region.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which manages hospitals across both counties, is restricting visits for two weeks from Friday.

ESNEFT had already suspended visits at Ipswich, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe hospitals due to a high Covid infection rate in Suffolk.

Exceptions to the visiting suspension include visitors for those receiving end-of-life care, children, patients with learning disabilities or severe dementia, and new mothers.

ESNEFT's decision comes as Covid infection rates in the Colchester and Tendring local authorities, where the hospitals are based, have steadily risen in recent weeks.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT, said the decision had been made to keep patients safe - Credit: ESNEFT

According to government data for the week up to October 21, Colchester's seven-day rate was 507.6 cases per 100,000 people, while Tendring's was 489.3.

These were both higher than the average for England at 488.2.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT, said the move to suspend visiting at Essex hospitals was introduced to "keep everyone safe".

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He said: "This week we have already taken the difficult decision to suspend visiting in our hospitals in east Suffolk.

"We have been keeping a close eye on community Covid-19 infection rates and the number of people in our hospitals with the virus, and we now need to take the same action in north-east Essex.

"From Friday, October 29 we will be suspending visiting at Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital, Harwich.

"This has not been an easy decision to make. We understand how important visiting is to our patients and their families and friends, but we must do everything we can to keep everyone safe in our hospitals.

"We will review the situation in two weeks, in line with hospital admissions and overall community Covid-19 infections and decide whether to continue with the suspension or return to a restricted visiting policy.

"We’d like to thank everyone in our communities for their support and understanding as we continue to respond to the challenges of the pandemic."