United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust will be clamping down on patient visiting from this week, following a continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the community.
The trust, which runs hospitals in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham and Louth, will implement the changes from Wednesday, March 30, meaning general visiting is now restricted for patients.
However, for maternity, paediatrics, neonates and some other instances, such as compassionate grounds for end of life care, patients will be fully supported and visits will be allowed.
The maternity department can support one birthing partner to attend the birth, and a partner to visit women and their baby either antenatal or postnatal. These partners will be able to attend all hospital maternity appointments, and visiting hours on the wards are 1pm to 7pm.
For paediatrics and neonatal services, parents who do not show symptoms of infection can visit their children, while parents with a baby in neonatal care can access the ward 24 hours a day, including overnight stays where accommodation allows.
As for compassionate grounds, those receiving end of life care are allowed visitors, as are patients with other exceptional circumstances and require a carer who can support their recovery. This includes people with learning disabilities, mental health conditions and dementia.
It is hoped these changes will restrict footfall within hospitals and wards, as a reported spike in COVID-19 cases has emerged in Lincolnshire.
Wards will be offering the opportunity for families to speak to their loved ones via Skype or FaceTime in the absence of visiting rights, as well as the trust offering its Letter to a Loved One scheme. Full details are available on the ULHT website.
Director of nursing, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “Restricting visiting is one of the measures we are taking to protect our patients and staff as we need to manage the threat level from the high number of cases in our community.
“We know that this decision will be upsetting for those who have loved ones in hospital, but we must prioritise the safety of our patients and staff at this time, and do not take these decisions lightly.
“Please be kind and understanding with our teams who are going above and beyond to care for their patients.
“We have put in place some exceptions and our ward teams will work with families and carers to ensure access is available in the right circumstances.
“Please bear with us whilst we continue to ensure the safety of our patients as well as our staff.”