Covid-19: Two NI trusts further ease visiting restrictions

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All five of Northern Ireland's health trusts have restrictions on visiting due to the Covid-19 pandemic

There has been an easing of hospital visiting restrictions across two health trusts in Northern Ireland.

Restrictions on visits were put in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and pressures on staff.

Patients in any Southern Health Trust hospital can now have two visitors from the same household at any one time, daily, as of 5 August.

The Northern Trust said any two nominated people can visit every day "where this can be accommodated".

The trusts have been regularly updating information regarding visiting across hospital and community settings since the pandemic began.

Southern Trust

Since May, the Southern Trust only allowed one of any two nominated people to visit their loved ones, separately.

The latest guidance states that visiting will continue to be by appointment only between certain times and must be booked in advance.

In the update on 4 August, the trust said the move was "in recognition of the needs of patients and their loved ones".

There is no change to the current visiting arrangements in the trust's paediatric, neonatal and maternity departments.

People visiting any trust facilities are still encouraged to take Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) before they attend.

A virtual visiting service will also be provided on request for those who may be unable to attend in person.

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The Northern Trust allows for two nominated people to visit patients every day "where this can be accommodated"

Northern Trust

The Northern Health Trust updated its visiting guidance on 3 August regarding acute and community hospitals.

The Northern Trust said that any two nominated people can now visit patients every day "where this can be accommodated".

Previously, only one of two nominated people were permitted to visit their loved one separately.

The trust added that prior arrangement with the ward nurse in charge is essential.

The trust encouraged any visitor to maintain 2m social distancing, wear face coverings and maintain good hand hygiene to limit the potential spread of Covid-19.

Visitors should also stay with the person they are visiting, minimising movement around the hospital or care home and maintain social distancing from other patients, residents and staff.

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The Belfast Health Trust allows most patients one of three nominated visitors twice per day

Belfast Trust

A spokesperson for the Belfast Health Trust has said their guidance is under continuous review, and any updates will be provided on their website.

Current guidance states that one of three nominated visitors can visit twice per day for an hour throughout the patient's stay in hospital.

The trust said that virtual visiting "remains the preferred option" as this reduces the risk of spread of Covid-19.

Any visitors must book through the trust's booking system to arrange this.

The Belfast Health Trust has said it will continue to review visiting arrangements to ensure the safety of patients, their relatives and staff.

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The latest review of the Western Trust visting guidance was on Tuesday and the next review will take place on Monday 15 August

Western Trust

The Western Trust's guidance around visiting their sites currently now allows for one visit, for one hour per day, per patient from three nominated visitors.

The trust state that exceptions continue to apply in some areas.

It said that if the number of Covid-19 cases decrease in the local community over the coming weeks, "it is hoped that the trust will move to gradual easing of restrictions".

The next review of the trust's visiting guidance will take place on Monday 15 August.

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Patient and residents in South Eastern Trust facilities are allowed to nominate a maximum of two people to visit them separately

South Eastern Trust

Current guidance in the South Eastern Trust states that every patient, unless instructed otherwise, in hospitals or care facilities "will be able to benefit from a daily visit with at least one person".

Patient and residents are allowed to nominate a maximum of two people to visit them separately.

Visiting at the South Eastern Trust, like all other trusts, is by appointment only and in this case be done through contacting the ward sister, department manager or deputy to book.

All people attending health and social care settings are still required to wear a face covering unless exempt from doing so.

The trusts said that any visitor may be asked to leave "if an emergency situation occurs and or Covid-19 safety measures cannot be sufficiently maintained".

A spokesperson for the South Eastern Trust said any future changes to visitation guidance will be found on its website.