Hospital relaxes 'no visitor rule' for Christmas

The accident took place outside West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital is bringing in visiting for Christmas and Boxing Day - Credit: Archant

Patients at West Suffolk Hospital will be able to share Christmas with a loved one as strict rules introduced to curb the spread of Covid are relaxed for the festive period.

One named visitor will be allowed in for an hour on Christmas Day, and again on Boxing Day before the hospital reverts back to no visitors from December 27.

Visitors must do a lateral flow test before arriving at the hospital and must phone the ward their loved-one is staying on beforehand to book their visit.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief nurse Sue Wilkinson said: "We have not taken this decision lightly, as we know how much patients and relatives value visiting.  

"Our priority, however, has to be keeping those vulnerable patients in our care as safe as possible, and with the high levels of Covid-19 cases in the county currently that means reducing the number of people coming into our hospitals.

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

There are exceptions for maternity; parents of child inpatients; end-of-life patients and those with a learning disability, dementia, or other mental health needs.

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Relatives can keep updated via the trust's dedicated clinical helpline, by calling 01284 713155 between 10am and 6pm, seven days a week.

A free video calling service is available for patients without their own digital devices, between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Ms Wilkinson added: "We would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience, support and understanding. We will keep the situation under close review and will make changes as quickly and as safely as we can."

Visiting was suspended at all Suffolk hospitals on Wednesday, October 27, as they began to see a rise in the number of patients infected. The rules were originally expected to be in place for three weeks but have been extended as cases in the community continue to grow.

East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals has yet to announce if they are relaxing rules.