February 2, 2022 12.17 pm

‘Risk-based’ patient visiting system to return at Lincolnshire hospitals

Wards will be assigned low, medium or high risk labels depending on infection rates

Patient visiting will be reintroduced at Lincolnshire hospitals this week, with controlled visits based on the risk level of COVID transmission of wards and patients alike.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust cancelled patient visits in August last year amid rising COVID-19 cases, and the restrictions were loosened in September with the introduction of a risk-based system.

Restrictions were then made stricter in December as the Omicron variant spread rapidly across the country and placed all NHS trusts under Level 4 National Incident Protocols.

But from Thursday, February 3, there will be an updated return of the risk-based approach allowing visitors onto ward areas in all ULHT hospitals, including Lincoln County, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Grantham & District Hospital.

All inpatient areas are given a classification of low, medium and high risk, reflecting the conditions of patients and infection prevention, as well as control measures.

For each level there will be different visiting arrangements in place, determined at individual patient level depending on the risk rating of themselves and the unit they reside in.

A breakdown of hospital visiting arrangements, depending on their levels of risk based on infection prevention. | Photo: ULHT

Low risk areas allow for visits managed on appointment basis for no more than 24 hours in advance. Visits are for one hour only but may be shared between two visitors, and depending on the size of the bedded bay the patient stays in, the more visitors they are allowed.

Medium risk areas also have controlled visiting, but restrict the number of visitors to just two, regardless of the size of the bedded bay of the patient.

As for high risk areas, visiting will remain suspended other than for agreed exceptional circumstances, such as patients receiving end of life care, or ones with a learning disability or significant cognitive impairment.

There are exceptions to the visiting restrictions for maternity, paediatrics and neonatal services as well.

The maternity department allows one birthing partner to attend the birth, as well as a partner to visit woman and baby either antenatal or postnatal, with visiting hours between 1pm and 7pm.

Partners can attend all hospital maternity appointments, and parents who do not show symptoms of infection can visit their kids on children’s wards and neonatal units.

Any exceptions will be made on a case by case basis, but parents with a baby in neonatal care have 24 hour access, including overnight stays where accommodation allows.

All visitors will be asked to provide a negative lateral flow test, taken on the day of the visit, as well as wearing a hospital-provided face mask for the duration of their visit.

Visitors can opt to have a copy of the lateral flow result sent as a message to their mobile phone or email address, which can be shown at the hospital’s main entrance 10-15 minutes before their booked time. You can also record the result on the NHS app as part of your COVID pass.

As part of the new regulations, it is being anticipated that there may be queues while people wait for their results to be verified and checked by hospital staff, and visitors are asked not to bring the physical version of their lateral flow test as proof.

Director of Nursing at ULHT, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “We understand how valuable visiting is to our patients and their loved ones and have worked incredibly hard to make this possible in a way that is as safe as can be for our patients, their visitors and our staff.

“All of our staff are really pleased to be able to do this for our patients and their loved ones as we appreciate how important this is to them. This process will be explained to visitors when they are making their booking with the ward.”