Ward visiting update for all ESNEFT hospitals

by | Mar 4, 2022 | ESNEFT Link News | 0 comments

More visitors will soon be welcome to visit patients on wards in hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

From Thursday 3 March, up to three people will be able to see a patient for the duration of their hospital stay.

It is not possible for three visitors to visit all together at the same time however, but they can arrange to see their loved one separately on different days.

The existing policy of one visitor per patient for one hour a day (24 hours after they have been admitted to a ward or assessment unit) still applies.

Visiting slots will also still be one hour long and must be booked with ward teams in advance.

This does not apply to visiting in exceptional/compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care, where more open visiting is in place. Visiting for carers is also supported.

If you are planning to visit a patient in ESNEFT hospitals, please remember:

  • One visitor may visit a patient for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours. This is from the point of admission to a ward or an assessment unit. It does not apply to time spent in A&E. This rule does not apply to visiting in exceptional or compassionate circumstances, such as end of life care, where more open visiting is in place
  • Visiting slots must be booked in advance with ward teams
  • Visiting times will be staggered over a 12-hour period to keep footfall to a minimum
  • Up to three people may visit during a patient’s stay – but not at the same time
  • Visits to COVID-19 wards and any bays on wards that are closed due to COVID-19 are not possible. However, exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, still apply, and will be arranged by ward leaders
  • Exceptions to visiting rules (that were originally in place) still stand. These are: end of life care, those in formal caring roles for patients with, for example, learning disabilities or severe dementia, parents of children and maternity
  • Children are not able to visit wards, apart from in exceptional or compassionate circumstances

There are no changes in A&E or Outpatients. Existing COVID-19 visiting restrictions remain in place in those departments. Please attend alone. Only carers, or one support person in essential cases, may attend with you.


ESNEFT is still strongly recommending visitors:

  • Are vaccinated (two doses) and, ideally, boosted against COVID-19
  • Take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) for COVID-19 on the day of your visit – where possible. Tests can be ordered on the Government website and remain free until 31 March
  • Always wear a surgical face mask – unless you are medically exempt.
  • Follow social distancing guidance
  • Wash/sanitise your hands when entering and leaving the ward and hospital buildings
  • Report to ward reception when you arrive for your visit
  • Avoid using hospital toilets, shops, and cafes, where possible. This is so we can continue to limit footfall in these areas and keep everyone safe in our hospitals

If you arrive to visit a ward without a pre-booked visiting slot, unfortunately you will be politely turned away. Please familiarise yourself with the Trust’s visiting policy and ask ward teams any questions you may have at the time of booking your visit.

Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse at ESNEFT and the Trust’s and Director of Infection Prevention and Control.

He said: “We are continuing to gradually and safely open visiting further so more people can come in to see the person they love.

“This must be on a rotational basis for now, but we recognise how important visitors are for our patients’ emotional wellbeing and how they support them with their recovery too, so we hope this step is a welcome one.

“We will keep our visiting guidance under regular review, in line with national guidance, so visitors can attend our hospitals and services in a way that continues to protect patients and staff alike – this is our top priority.

“We must continue to have some visiting restrictions in place for now to keep everyone safe and to help prevent any spread of COVID-19 in our hospitals.”

ESNEFT Chief Nurse Giles Thorpe

Mortuary visiting  

The Trust’s general visiting policy and principles, regarding COVID-19 vaccination status and LFT testing, also apply in the mortuaries at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

The maximum number of people who may attend an appointment is limited to two named visitors only. This is so we can maintain social distancing in the viewing room and our waiting areas. Viewings are by appointment only and must be booked in advance.

There is still no requirement to visit our sites in-person to collect a medical certificate of Cause of Death. This process continues to be managed electronically between our hospitals and the Registration Service.