Visiting restrictions and additional safety controls are being introduced at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital from this weekend as cases of Covid-19 rise in the city.
As Hull and East Yorkshire move into Tier 2, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is asking the public to help prevent the virus spreading to sick and vulnerable patients.
Only one nominated visitor will be allowed to spend up to one hour a day with their loved one and wards looking after patients with Covid-19 will be closed to visitors.
New safety controls will be in place at main hospital entrances to check all visitors are free of Covid-19 symptoms, have a valid reason to be there, are wearing masks, using alcohol hand gels and are following social distancing at all times.
Chief Executive Chris Long said: “These are not steps we take lightly but Covid-19 poses a deadly threat to the lives of our patients, many of whom are already very seriously ill and vulnerable.
“We must do everything we can to protect not just our patients but our staff too, so they are able to come to work to look after the people who need them.
“We have been open and frank about the doubling of cases we’ve seen since last week and we thank you for your support and understanding as we do everything we can to keep your loved ones safe.”
Like other hospitals in England, Hull’s hospitals halted visiting during the national lockdown in March. Some restrictions were then eased at the end of the first wave, allowing family members in the same bubble to visit relatives where possible.
However, Hull and the East Riding has been deemed “high” risk areas, with restrictions on home visiting, operating hours for pubs and restaurants and visits to care home among the tightened measures to be introduced from a minute past midnight on Saturday to slow the spread of the virus.
From then, just one family member will be allowed to visit a relative on a non-Covid ward and they must be from the same support bubble. The designated visitor must remain the same throughout the patient’s stay in hospital and cannot be swapped between different family members.
Visiting is restricted to up to one hour a day and the time slot must be agreed in advance with the ward sister to prevent crowding in lift lobbies or ward entrances and limit contact between members of the public.
People with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 will not be able to receive visitors for the time being.
The trust is looking at using technology to help families keep in touch with relatives on wards until normal visiting can be reintroduced.
As before, all visitors or those attending appointments must wear a face covering as soon as they enter our hospitals and keep it on throughout their visit. They must wash their hands as soon as they enter the ward and again as they are leaving.
Only patients attending outpatient appointments or requiring the Emergency Department will be admitted apart from those with registered carers.
Safety controls will be in place at main entrances including Hull Royal Infirmary’s tower block entrance, Women and Children’s Hospital and the Eye Hospital and at the Queen’s Centre, the Cardiology Unit and the Centenary Centre, all Castle Hill, to ensure people are following social distancing, wearing masks, are using hand gel or hand washing facilities and have a reason to be inside the building.
Visiting guidelines for parents of patients on children’s wards, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and for maternity services at Hull Women and Children’s Hospital are currently under review in light of the change in risk level, with any changes to be announced next week.
Mr Long said: “We understand the psychological impact of not having visitors, not just on our patients but on their loved ones too.
“But we must balance that with the need to do everything we can to protect as many people as possible while ensuring our services can continue to help those most in need during the pandemic.
“We will keep these new measures under constant review and when we believe it is safe to lift any restriction, we will act swiftly. Similarly, we will not hesitate to introduce further restrictions if the risk to our staff and patients increases further.”
[Allison Coggan – Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust]