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Western Trust New Visiting Guidance


Dr Bob Brown

During this COVID19 pandemic, normal healthcare visiting arrangements were suspended to safeguard and protect both our patients and staff. We recognise that this has been a particularly difficult time for everyone involved. We would like to thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding, as well as recognise the vital role our staff have played in providing comfort and reassurance to patients when their families were unable to be by their side.

Following the recent announcement from the Health Minister about visiting to healthcare settings, the Trust has developed new visiting guidance. This guidance has been developed to facilitate visiting while the Trust is in pre, or low surge and are subject to change should any individual ward or facility have two or more suspected cases of COVID19, in which case all visiting will cease.

The new visiting guidance in our hospitals will commence from Monday 6 July 2020. However, Trust run Residential Homes will be recommencing visiting on a phased approach and all families will be contacted directly regarding this. The Trust is also providing support to Independent Care Facilities as they reopen to visitors and relatives are advised to link with the Care home manager for local arrangements.

Principles of Visiting:
  • From 6th July 2020 all people visiting/attending any health and social care setting will be required to wear face coverings for the foreseeable future. The public will be required to supply their own face covering and will not be permitted to enter the facility without it.
  • Anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of COVID19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed. In these circumstances the individual should remain at home and follow the latest public health advice on self-isolation and testing.
  • Each patient may nominate up to two people to visit throughout their hospital stay. (This will differ for care homes).
  • Visiting times are between 2 – 3pm and 4 – 5pm daily (excluding maternity), in order to assist the Trust to manage footfall of people in hospital and community facilities, and to maintain a safe environment for our patients and health care workers.Families will be provided with the specific visiting timetable and should not attend for visiting without prior arrangement with the ward.
  • Only one visitor at a time can visit (except in exceptional circumstances and discussed with the Ward Manager).
  • You are advised not to visit if you are shielding.
  • No children under 16 may visit.
  • Visits will be a maximum duration of one hour.
  • Visitors will be required to sanitise their hands on entering and leaving the hospital/care home/facility and again on entering and leaving the ward or area where the visit is taking place.
  • Entrance and exit points may differ and visitors are asked to adhere to the signage in place. The Trust also has a ‘keep left’ approach in place to promote social distancing.
  • Visitors should use the entrance closest to the ward/department they are accessing at Altnagelvin Hospital. The main entrance at South West Acute Hospital should be used by all patients and visitors.
  • Please note the Emergency Department entrance does not permit access to the main hospital.
  • Where possible virtual visiting remains the preferred option as this reduces the risk of spread of COVID19 and to support this, all areas will continue to facilitate virtual visiting.


  • Birth partner/nominated person will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to fetal anomaly scan.  Women must attend all other scan appointments in Ante Natal Clinic, Gynae Ward 43 and Fetal Assessment Unit on their own. This may be reviewed at a later date.
  • Ante Natal Ward – their birthing partner, who can stay for one hour on admission, can accompany women being admitted for induction of labour. Birthing partners can visit in Ante Natal Ward for 1-hour between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.
  • Labour Ward/ MLU – Birth partner/nominated person can remain with the woman during active labour and birth.
  • Post Natal Ward – Partner only will be permitted to visit for 1-hour period. Ward Manager depending on which room/bed the woman is in to allow for social distancing in four bedded areas will allocate the time slot. It will be either 2.00pm to 3.00pm or 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Emergency Department:

  • One person only to accompany patient where the patient is unable to understand or communicate with staff.


  • Where it is necessary for the patient to attend face-to-face appointments, only one person to accompany where the person is unable to understand or communicate with staff.


  • One person only to accompany patient where the patient is unable to understand or communicate with staff / requires physical or emotional assistance/ is a child, so must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone.

The Trust would also like to remind the public that due to social distancing, very limited refreshments will be available on our hospital sites. At busier times, limited car parking will be available close to the main hospital entrances, therefore we would encourage the public to leave extra time for your journey.

Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing at the Western Trust said: “The new arrangements have been developed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff during a pre or low surge of COVID19.

“We recognise that this has been a very difficult time for patients and families and we would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we implement our new visiting guidance.”

Dr Brown continued: “We would also like to take the opportunity to once again thank our amazing community and hospital staff who have worked beyond the call of duty, under the most challenging of circumstances throughout recent months. Staff have not only been providing first class clinical care, but also became an extended family to patients, spending additional time at the bedside comforting and hand holding when loved ones were unable to do so and helping patients make contact with their loved ones through virtual means.”

New Visiting Guidance Document