Inpatients at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital are to be allowed a “named visitor” under new rules giving them greater contact with their loved ones.
The Oswestry-based hospital put a halt to visiting at the end of March for all patients except those on end of life care plans, or in other exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the ward manager. That was in line with national guidance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the change – which comes into effect from Saturday (18 July) – does not represent a return to business as normal, as visiting will still be heavily limited, in order to minimise any risk of covid-19 being brought onto the site.
Patients in all the hospital’s orthopaedic wards, and on its medical rehabilitation ward, will be able to nominate one named visitor. This will be the only person able to visit them during their stay at the hospital. The named visitor will be able to book a slot via the ward clerk and will be able to stay for a maximum of one hour.
Similar rules apply for patients in the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI), except that they will be able to nominate two named visitors who will be able to stay for up to two hours.
People can find more information about the new visiting process, including how to book a slot if they are a named visitor, by going to www.rjah.nhs.uk/visiting
Chris Morris, Interim Director of Nursing at RJAH, said: “The stop we put on visiting four months ago was the right thing to do in order to protect our patients and our staff.
“But we know that being in hospital can be a worrying time for people, and not being able to see any of their family or loved ones has made it even harder. We’ve tried to help them with technology to allow virtual contact, but nothing beats being able to talk to someone face-to-face.
“We have been monitoring the situation very closely and feel that now is the right time to allow some visitors back on site.
“We are only allowing one named visitor for now, and two for our patients on MCSI – who have often been with us for many weeks or even months and can be a long way from home.
“Visitors will be expected to undergo a temperature check and put on a face mask when they arrive at the Main Entrance, and to observe all social distancing guidelines. They will also need to leave their name, address and a contact number with the ward in case of any covid-19 case that requires them to be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we hope people understand that we might have to close to visitors again if we see an increase in coronavirus cases, either within the community or within the hospital. Safety will always be our first priority.”
The changes above are in line with guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement, who are encouraging the gradual resumption of visiting in order that patients and visitors can see their families and loved ones.
Individual wards will be able to use their own discretion as to time slots they offer to visitors, though all appointments for the day must be concluded by 7pm in order that thorough cleaning can take place.
The changes do not apply to people attending for appointments in the Main Outpatients Department, who must continue to visit alone unless by prior agreement with the department. This is due to space restrictions in the Outpatient Department which mean adequate social distancing could not be maintained if patients were accompanied.
Stacey Keegan, Acting Chief Executive, said: “This change makes us the first NHS hospital across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin to re-introduce any routine visiting for patients.
“It is the right thing to do, especially for our most vulnerable patients who will really benefit from contact with their families.
“Our priority is maintaining the safety of our patients and our staff, as well as our visitors, so we will monitor this change closely and adapt the rules as required.”
For more information on visiting a patient at RJAH, go to www.rjah.nhs.uk/visiting.