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Western Trust COVID-19 Visiting Guidance

Visiting Update From 00:01 on Tuesday 25 January

Last Updated 11.11.22

Visiting Guidance update for Western Trust Hospitals

Following the Department of Health announcement which outlines the removal of all significant visiting restrictions to hospital and community settings, the Western Trust has updated its visiting arrangements. The Trust is allowing two people to attend during visiting times across most adult wards, maternity wards and mental health inpatient wards.

Individual wards may on occasions recommend that routine visiting arrangements be suspended due to outbreaks and staff will inform patients and their visitors should this occur.


  • Exceptional Circumstances
    • There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the cancer services, ICU and visiting patients in end of life care.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

  • Zero Tolerance Policy

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a Zero Tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

  • Safety Measures in our Hospitals

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and we are therefore emphasising the social responsibility our visitors have by ensuring they please continue with adherence to infection prevention and control measures in our efforts to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 into high risk and vulnerable settings.

    We ask that:

    • Patients inform nursing staff of their preferred visiting arrangements.
    • Visitors do not visit, if symptomatic even if they test negative for COVID-19.
    • Visitors adhere to good Infection Prevention and Control practice by wearing Face coverings, and any other necessary PPE, as directed.
    • Visitors wash hands or use the hand sanitiser before and after visiting.
    • Visitors make themselves aware of the risks involved in visiting their loved one, and work with the ward/care staff.
    • Visitors should stay with the person they are visiting throughout the visit, minimising movement around the hospital/care home and maintaining social distancing from other patients/residents and staff to reduce risks of infection spread.
    • Babies and Children do not routinely visit. Exceptions should be discussed with the nurse in charge.
  • Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Testing Before you Attend

    If you are planning on visiting someone in one of our healthcare settings, please remember to do a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test before you attend.

    To order LFD tests to your home visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk/testing


    We would also ask that visitors please wear a face mask (covering their nose and mouth) when inside our healthcare facilities, even when in the presence of a patient.

    It is extremely important that any individual displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and take a LFD in line with current advice for the general population – they should not visit a hospital.

    Visitors are strongly encouraged to take a Lateral Flow test prior to visiting. It is important that all visitors who undertake LFD testing report the result of their test, irrespective of whether the LFD test is positive, negative or void. To report an LFD test result visitors should visit https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result  or alternatively phone 119 (free from mobiles and landlines) from 7.00am to 11.00pm.

  • Self-isolation period recommendation

    Visitors should note that despite the latest government guidance that you no longer need to self-isolate from Day 5, as a precautionary measure, you should avoid contact with people you know to be at higher risk from COVID-19 for 10 days, especially those with a weakened immune system and/or in hospital, to make sure you are no longer infectious.

  • Inpatient wards

    Mental Health Inpatient Wards 

    Two people only may attend for each visiting time. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate their visiting times to prevent overcrowding.

    Times: 1.00pm -2.00pm and 7pm-8.30pm

    (Wards 3, 21 and 43) at Altnagelvin Hospital and Elective Ward 9 at South West Acute Hospital will now allow one visitor from two nominated visitors to visit for one hour, once per day for post operation patients only. A time slot will need be arranged directly with the Ward.

  • Hospice Facilities

    Omagh Hospital Palliative Care Ward is considered a hospice facility and aligns its visiting principles to the Regional Hospice services guidance.

  • Intensive Care Units

    Two people can attend during visiting times. Please contact the Ward in advance. Visiting will be more flexible in exceptional circumstances.

  • Emergency Department

    Emergency Departments continue to experience severe congestion at times due to the number of patients attending and those awaiting beds in the hospital. We will prioritise the presence of a visitor or carer to accompany those with additional needs, other visitors may be asked to limit time in the department so we can ensure adequate distancing and space to treat patients.

  • Outpatient Appointments

    We will prioritise the presence of a visitor or carer to accompany those with additional needs, other visitors may be asked to limit time in the department so we can ensure adequate distancing and space to treat patients.

  • Radiology Department (Including Breast Screening appointments)

    One person only to be facilitated to accompany each patient where the environment is COVID secure exceptions are in the following circumstances:

      • Patient is unable to  understand or communicate with staff,
      • Patient requires physical or emotional assistance beyond that which Radiology staff can provide.
      • Patient is a child, so must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone. In these cases one person only to accompany patient.   
    • Foetal Anomaly scanning – Women attending for Anomaly scanning may be accompanied by one nominated person.
    • Any patient developing COVID-19 symptoms prior to their appointment should contact their local Radiology Department for rescheduling advice
    • For all attendances at Radiology a face covering must be worn.
  • Cancer/Burns/Renal Units

    Ward 50 (North West Cancer Centre) at Altnagelvin will now allow for two nominated persons to visit for one hour, once a week. To keep our patients and staff safe from infection risks, virtual visiting remains the preferred option, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.

  • Day Procedure Units

    Due to inability to ensure a social distance of two metres, it is NOT possible for one person to be facilitated to accompany each patient attending for a day procedure as well as other short stay elective admissions. Where possible the patient attending for the appointment should do so alone, except where they have mobility or other impairment that requires them to be accompanied by one other person.

  • Maternity Services
    Visiting in antenatal and postnatal wards

    Two people only may attend twice per day. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate their visiting times to prevent overcrowding.

    When you attend
    • You and your birthing partner will be asked screening questions on entering the maternity building
    • You must wear your own face covering at all times while in the maternity building. If for medical reasons you cannot wear a face mask then a visor must be worn.
    • You must sanitise your hands on entering the maternity building and again on admission to
      the individual ward and department
    Scan and antenatal appointments
    • One partner may accompany a woman attending antenatal appointments
    • We have to adhere to 2-metre social distancing in our outpatient settings – in particular, the waiting areas. While you are welcome to bring your partner to all appointments, please be aware that your partner will be asked to wait outside the building until called into your appointment.
    • We would ask you to consider attending antenatal appointments on your own if you can
    • Please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to your allocated appointment time
    • If your antenatal appointment is on same day as your GTT or Anti D your partner may only accompany you to your antenatal appointment and will be phoned to come in to join you
    • We cannot welcome children or other family members at this time to antenatal clinics.

    Labour and Birth

    • A nominated birth partner may accompany a woman for the initial induction process, the duration of the visit will be decided by the midwife in charge.
    • Women in early labour may be supported by one birth partner
    • One nominated birth partner may accompany a woman in labour to delivery suite/MLU and at the birth.

    Please note this guidance will be subject to change and will be updated in line with the Trust and Government guidance.

  • Children’s Wards

    Any child admitted to the Children’s Ward can be accompanied by two people (either/both parents or two nominated caregivers from up to two households), at all times for the duration of the stay.  We would however ask that parents or other nominated visitors swap places to enable us to maintain effective social distancing.

  • Neonatal Units

    Where social distancing is possible, our Neonatal Units will allow both parents, or two nominated visitors to spend as much time with their baby as they wish. Parents may also visit together. To reduce risk, nominated visitors cannot be swapped or changed, to minimise the number of people with whom the baby has contact. We remain unable to extend visiting to grandparents at present unless in exceptional circumstances.

  • Trust Residential Homes

    For Residential Homes please see | Department of Health Visit with Care Pathway

  • Community Hospitals and Intermediate Care Facilities

    Two people only may attend for each visiting time. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate their visiting times to prevent overcrowding.

    Times: 3.00pm – 4.00pm / 7pm – 8.30pm

  • Mental Health/ Older People Mental Health

    Two people only may attend for each visiting time. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate their visiting times to prevent overcrowding.

    Times: 1.00pm -2.00pm and 7pm-8.30pm

  • Learning Disability

    Two visitors to visit at the same time, for one hour per day, per patient from FOUR nominated visitors. Exceptions continue to apply in some areas. If the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in the local community over the coming weeks, it is hoped that the Trust will move to a further ‘gradual easing’ of restrictions.

  • Physical Disability

    Two visitors to visit at the same time, for one hour per day, per patient from FOUR nominated visitors. Exceptions continue to apply in some areas. If the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in the local community over the coming weeks, it is hoped that the Trust will move to a further ‘gradual easing’ of restrictions.

  • Hospital Chaplains

    Where there is particular benefit from the Minister of Faith/Chaplain being present, and particularly given they are members of the multi-disciplinary teams providing pastoral care to patients/residents and are not counted in the maximum of “2 visitors”.  Chaplains will visit a patient once throughout the duration of their stay in hospital (variations to this are subject to individual discussions with the nurse in charge e.g. in an end of life situation) and only visit one patient per visit.  For all other contact, Chaplain’s will use the mobile devices that have been provided to them at individual wards/facilities. Chaplains will continue to adhere to the Trust IP&C and PPE guidance at all times.

  • Virtual Visiting

    You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

  • Children Under 16

    Children under 16 are not permitted to visit.

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