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Western Trust COVID-19 Visiting Guidance

Visiting Update From 00:01 on Tuesday 25 January

Last Updated 21.09.22

Visiting Guidance update for Western Trust Hospitals

The Western Trust  is easing its current visiting guidance to hospital sites to allow 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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

There has been an easing of restrictions to visiting in Ward 50 (North West Cancer Centre) at Altnagelvin which 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.

Important information on visiting any Western Trust hospital:
  • Two visitors (from FOUR nominees) are permitted to visit for one hour, once per day at the same time.
  • Maternity Services – birthing partner can attend twice daily. One other nominated visitor can visit once daily at the same time as birthing partner.
  • Neonatal Units – both parents or two nominated visitors to spend as much time with their baby as they wish.
  • Children’s Ward – 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.
  • There has been an easing of restrictions to visiting in Ward 50 (North West Cancer Centre) at Altnagelvin which 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.
  • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
  • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
  • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility after Day 5 of testing positive. You should wait until after Day 10 before visiting.
  • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
  • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
  • Depending on the continued level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
  • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 26 September 2022.

Download the Addendum to the Trust Visiting Policy Revised Visiting Guidance 


  • Once per day Visiting

    The Western Trust  is easing its current visiting guidance to hospital sites to allow 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.

    This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • Exceptional Circumstances

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal 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

    Please remember that all measures being implemented are to protect patients and staff in these challenging times and everyone who visits our facilities should be respectful of all our staff who dedicate themselves to caring for others and saving lives.

    Please respect our staff

    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 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.

  • 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

    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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • 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

    One daily visit from one of three nominated individuals can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments.  Visiting will be more flexible in exceptional circumstances.

  • Emergency Department

    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 at the Emergency Department.  Where possible the patient attending ED should do so alone, except where they have mobility or other impairment that requires them to be accompanied by one other person.

  • Outpatient Appointments

    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 at all outpatient appointments.  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.

  • 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

    There has been an easing of restrictions to visiting in Ward 50 (North West Cancer Centre) at Altnagelvin which 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.

    This is subject to local discretion in response to individualised risk assessment due to the vulnerability of the patients being cared for in these units.

  • 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

    Our Maternity Services will now allow the birthing partner to visit twice daily, and in addition one visit from one other nominated visitor can attend on one of these visits. However, consideration will be given outside this in exceptional or individual circumstances. This will also need to be agreed with  the midwife in charge.

    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
    • We are offering a COVID-19 swab test to everyone admitted to the maternity service. This helps ensure that women in our hospital are safe.
    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 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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • Mental Health/ Older People Mental Health

    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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • 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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • 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. This will be reviewed on Monday 26 September 2022.

  • 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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