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Visiting arrangements

UPDATED: Tuesday 6 July 2021

Visiting restrictions across our adult inpatient wards have been reintroduced. County Durham now has one of the highest community rates of COVID-19. Restricting visiting is not an easy decision, but we need to act to help protect our patients and our workforce.

We very much recognise the many benefits visitors can bring to a patient's care and wellbeing but we must also maintain our duty of care to protect our own people and all patients by minimising the risk of the spread of infection. Weekly consideration is being given to this position to look at possible, safe re-introduction and how this would be managed. Current restrictions will remain in place while community prevalence, hospital admissions & outbreaks remain high.

We know this is very difficult for loved ones. We do have some exceptions in place which are listed below. If you have any concerns then please discuss them with the ward manager.

We have ipads available on our wards so you can visit virtually with loved ones and you can also send messages and photographs through our 'Stay in Touch' scheme.

Exceptions to visiting restrictions:

  • Patients receiving end of life care
  • Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner
  • One parent or carer will be able to accompany children in our emergency departments, children's wards and neonatal units
  • Patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer
  • Where visiting will support discharge or the mental wellbeing of a patient this can also be arranged at the discretion of the ward manager/nurse in charge

Reviewed: Monday 20 September, 2021


Published: May 2021

As tentative steps out of lockdown continue, we are easing some of the visitor restrictions introduced last year to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Introducing restrictions on our patients receiving visitors  was a very difficult decision, made in response to both very worrying Covid infection rates locally, and national guidance.  We know this hasn't been easy for patients and their loved ones, so we're absolutely delighted that, from today, we're able to begin lifting restrictions.  Of course, we all know how quickly infection rates can change so we'll keep a close eye on these to keep patients, our staff - and the wider community - as safe as possible.

From Monday 17 May, and in line with step three of the national lockdown easing, patients will be able to have one visitor per day, for up to an hour.

This will also apply to young patients on our children's wards, in addition to the resident parent or carer already permitted.

Keeping the numbers of people coming into our buildings to a minimum is still important so, for example, it won't be possible for two family members to each visit for 30 minutes.

Visits will also need to be booked in advance with the ward team.

Our maternity, post-natal and neonatal teams are also relaxing some restrictions - we ask people to contact their midwife or ask ward staff for details. CLICK HERE for more information.

Emergency Departments and Urgent Treatment Centres: Currently patients need to attend alone.  Due to the increasing demand on these departments, this restriction will remain in place until there is no longer a requirement to socially distance, other than for patients who meet the agreed national recommendations exceptions.
Exceptions are in place for patients with:
  • Learning disabilities
  • Dementia
  • Patients where their condition is such that the doctor has made a decision to commence the end of life pathway.
  • Children (who can be accompanied by one parent)
  • Patients assessed on attendance as needing increased support from a relative or friend due to mental health issues in crisis.
Outpatients appointments: patients attending for outpatient appointments should continue attending alone.  Exceptions are patients with dementia, a learning disability, autism or difficulty communicating.  Exception can also continue to be made where the appointment will involve breaking bad news - at the discretion of medical and nursing staff.
We're incredibly grateful for the continued support, patience and understanding from our local communities as we take these cautious steps forward.

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital