With transmission rates continuing to reduce, the successful vaccination roll out in full swing and the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown continuing on track, the NHS in Gloucestershire has reviewed arrangements for visiting in the county’s hospitals.

From Monday 26 April, one visitor per patient will be allowed in the county’s hospitals for one hour each day. Visitors must be a close contact (from the same household or family bubble) and must book visits beforehand, at a prearranged time between 12noon and 6pm.

There will be some exceptions in special circumstances and where patients would benefit from a carer being with them, for example for ongoing personal, physical and emotional care and support whilst in hospital. This might include patients with learning disabilities, dementia or other vulnerabilities.

Professor Steve Hams, Director of Quality and Chief Nurse at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are really pleased to be able to invite visitors back into our wards as we know just how difficult it has been for families, friends and loved ones not to be able to visit since we implemented restrictions to keep our patients and staff safe and help to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in our hospitals.

“Sadly, we cannot yet completely ease the restrictions but we do hope that by enabling one visitor to come in and see a patient each day, this will help close contacts, while still enabling us to ensure we maintain the low infection rates we have worked so hard, together, to achieve.”

John Trevains, Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very grateful to everyone who adapted to the visiting restrictions we’ve had in place. We introduced digital visiting options, such as iPads for video calls, at hospitals in the county and encouraged contact via phone. However, we know how important human contact is while people are in hospital and we’re pleased that we can once more welcome visitors into our buildings with some important limitations to keep everyone safe.”

From 26 April onwards, visiting guidance for adult inpatient areas is as follows:

  • One visitor can visit one patient for one hour a day at a prearranged time between 12noon and 6pm
  • Visitors should be a close contact, i.e. family member, from the same household or support bubble
  • Visits should be booked in advance via ward staff
  • Visitors must wear a PPE face mask and keep 2 metres away from other people
  • We ask all visitors to wash their hands before entering and leaving the building and to use the hand sanitiser outside each ward and department
  • If you have a medical mask exemption please discuss the additional support you will require to stay safe and help protect others on your visit with the nurse in charge of the ward
  • If you would like to request a visit for exceptional reasons or to provide personal care and support to a vulnerable patient, please speak to the nurse in charge of the ward.

Please do not visit if:

  • You are required to self-isolate because you live in a household where someone has had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19, including via a lateral flow test
  • You are displaying symptoms of COVID-19
  • Visitors who were previously shielding should remain cautious about visiting and have strict adherence to the social distancing, face mask and hand hygiene guidelines.

Accompanying others into hospital 

  • Patients may be accompanied where appropriate and necessary to assist their communication and/or to meet their health, emotional, religious or spiritual care needs.
  • One parent or guardian may accompany a person under the age of 16 to the Emergency Department, Minor Injury and Illness Units, or to an Outpatients appointment.
  • One person can be nominated to accompany a woman giving birth. For further information, please see https://www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/high-risk-and-vulnerable-patients/advice-if-you-are-pregnant/
  • One birthing partner can attend 12 and 20 week scans. For all other antenatal appointments, the patient should attend alone, unless advised otherwise by a clinician.
  • If you are planning to collect a patient leaving hospital, please contact the ward for instructions on where to meet them. Only one person should enter the hospital building to collect a patient. Please do not wait for patients inside the hospital building, unless you have been asked to by a member of staff. This is because having lots of people inside the hospital increases the risk of infection to patients, staff and volunteers.

The updated restrictions will apply to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) and seven community hospitals in the county:

  • Cirencester
  • The Dilke (Cinderford)
  • Lydney
  • North Cotswolds (Moreton-in-Marsh)
  • Stroud
  • Tewkesbury
  • The Vale (Dursley)

They are also applicable to the county’s mental health and learning disability inpatient units:

  • Wotton Lawn (Gloucester)
  • Charlton Lane (Cheltenham)
  • Berkeley House (Stroud)
  • Laurel House (Cheltenham)
  • Honeybourne (Cheltenham)

Children’s Wards and Neonatal Intensive Care (only applies to GHNHSFT)

  • As previously, visiting is restricted to parents, carers or guardians only and must be household members or a member of the support bubble.
  • Only 2 visitors are allowed per child at any one time. This should be the same 2 visitors on each occasion
  • Please discuss siblings visiting with the nurse in charge
  • Only 2 visitors are permitted on the neonatal ward at any one time, this should be parents or guardians only; if parents, both can visit at the same time

Please visit the Trust websites for more information or speak to the nurse in charge of the ward with any questions:

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk

Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust: www.ghc.nhs.uk