West Herts Hospitals remind public of visiting rules as lockdown eases

St Albans City Hospital. Photo: Danny Loo.

St Albans City Hospital. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

West Herts Hospital Trust is keen to remind the public that no visitors are allowed on West Herts hospital sites except in exceptional circumstances, however patients can still keep in contact with their loved ones.

Strict visiting restrictions are in place at St Albans City Hospital, Watford General and Hemel Hempstead General sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exceptional circumstances where a patient can have a visitor include accompanying a woman in labour as a birthing partner and visiting a patient receiving end of life care.

Chief nurse Tracey Carter said: “We know that as lockdown restrictions are lifting that people may feel that life is getting more or less back to normal but unfortunately that’s not the case for the NHS.

“COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and is still an ever present threat.

“As the NHS celebrates its 72nd birthday today, we’d like to say thank you to the public for doing everything they can to support the NHS and to please continue helping us by staying away from our sites. This will help us to keep our patients and staff safe.”

Other safety measures in place include wearing face coverings or masks if you are attending for an appointment, and following hand hygiene and social distancing guidance.

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The trust has created a number of new initiatives to help keep patients in touch with their families as the absence of contact can add extra worry to an already stressful time. This includes a family liaison call back service which has been set up to provide families with daily updates on the health and welfare of their loved one.

A visitor helpline has also been created which can deal with general enquiries, signposting to other available services or for arranging to bring in personal items. The visitor helpline can be reached on 01923 436799.

Face-to-face contact between patients and their loved ones is hugely important. The trust has provided over 250 iPads for patients, who don’t have their own device, to be able to video call their loved ones.

A messaging service has also been established, allowing friends and family to send ‘Letters to a loved one’. Unlimited messages, including photos, can be sent in via email or telephone which will be printed out and hand delivered to any patient in the trust. Email westherts.visitors_line_hub@nhs.net or call 01923 436799.

Patient experience lead nurse, Colette Datt said: “Staying in hospital can be a worrying time for patients and their loved ones and the COVID-19 pandemic has added many additional concerns.

“With the change in visiting restrictions not allowing personal contact with family, it’s vital for us to do what we can to ensure our patients feel connected and supported during their hospital stay.

“We’ve had some fantastic feedback from patients and relatives and it’s wonderful to know the initiatives we’ve brought in are making a difference.”