Hospitals plea to cut 'large number of phone calls' as visits suspended

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at ESNEFT - Credit: ESNEFT

Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals are asking families to nominate one person to call for updates on loved ones to ease pressure on staff and phone lines.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), has thanked local communities for their "patience and forbearance" as temporary visiting restrictions come into force due to rising Covid levels.

Mr Thorpe said: “We are seeing a rise in telephone calls being made to all our hospitals and would be most grateful if all families and carers could help us by nominating one person, usually the next of kin, to be the main contact and make the call.

“This would help us significantly reduce the very large number of calls which are being made towards and allow more time for staff to care for patients.”

He said the caller could then "share the information with all of their family and friends".

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have no front line staff refusing to have a Covid vaccine.

Ipswich Hospital has temporarily suspended visiting due to Covid - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Thorpe said: "We know how important visitors are for patients and it was a very difficult decision to take.

"The rising level of Covid-19 admissions and prevalence in our communities meant that we had to take action to keep everyone safe."

Visits to all Suffolk hospitals have been temporarily suspended for three weeks,  by ESNEFT and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), which started from October 27.

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The restrictions include Ipswich, Felixstowe and Aldeburgh Hospitals and Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, as well as West Suffolk Hospital and Newmarket Community Hospital.

In north Essex, ESNEFT has also introduced a two-week suspension of visiting at Colchester, Clacton and Harwich Hospitals, running for two weeks from October 29. 

Although most visits are suspended, exceptions have been issued for visiting end of life and maternity care and for those that are parents of children or in a caring role for a patient with learning disabilities or severe dementia.

Families and friends of patients at ESNEFT hospitals can use the online Letters to Loved Ones service to send messages.

They can also send messages and dedications via Hospital Radio Ipswich, which is working to keep loved ones in touch.

At West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, a spokesman also thanked families and patient for understanding while visiting was suspended at the hospital.

A spokesperson said: “We have not taken this decision lightly and will continue to keep the situation under close review. In the meantime, relatives can use our dedicated clinical helpline to keep updated on loved ones and we also offer a free video calling service called ‘Keeping in Touch’ for patients who don’t have their own digital devices.”

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