Hospital visits suspended across Northumberland and North Tyneside

Visiting has been suspended at Northumberland hospitals, including Wansbeck General Hospital, from today (Wednesday) to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:10 pm
Wansbeck General Hospital.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust made the decision, which also applies to hospitals in North Tyneside, in line with national guidance.

Until further notice, visiting will only be permitted for patients who are receiving end-of-life care, birthing partners in maternity units and parents or legal guardians in the children’s unit.

iPads will be available on wards for ‘virtual’ visiting. There will also be a central phone number for updates.

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Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, it is a sensible step to try and reduce the spread of coronavirus in our hospitals, and in our communities, across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

“At this time, we must do all we can to protect our patients, many of whom are elderly and already very ill, and our staff, who we need to be well in order to care for those who need their help.

“Whilst this is a temporarily measure, we cannot say at this stage how long it will be in place.

“We understand that people will be disappointed by not being able to visit loved ones in hospital and we would appeal to the public for their support and co-operation at this difficult time.

“We will be facilitating ‘virtual’ visiting by making iPads available for patients on our wards to ‘see’ their loved ones, if they don’t have these facilities themselves, and setting up a central number for people to ring.

“There will be circumstances where visitors will be permitted (e.g. if there are exceptional clinical or social reasons which will be decided on a case-by-case basis) and we would urge people to liaise directly with the ward.”

In line with national guidance, Northumbria Healthcare is also making people aware that it is no longer swabbing people for coronavirus by appointment.

People attending trust hospitals with respiratory conditions may be asked to wear a mask to protect themselves and those around them. All patients must comply with this.

The trust is reiterating Government advice for people not to come into hospital, or their GP practice, and to stay at home if they have a high temperature (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or a new, continuous cough. Also:

If you have symptoms, stay home for seven days.

If you live with other people, you should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

You feel you cannot cope with their symptoms at home.

Your condition gets worse.

Your symptoms don’t improve after seven days.