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Visiting on inpatient wards suspended as COVID-19 cases rise

The NHS in Norfolk and Waveney has announced that visiting on inpatient wards is being suspended for two weeks amid rising COVID-19 infection levels.

The restrictions will take effect at all local hospitals and trusts with inpatient wards, with the exception of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s acute mental health wards, from today, Wednesday 3 November until Wednesday 17 November.

There will be a number of exceptions for patients receiving end of life care, maternity services, children, patients with mental health issues such as dementia, a learning disability or autism. People are urged to check their local hospital website for further information and to discuss individual cases with the teams in charge of these wards.

The difficult decision to suspend visiting on inpatient wards has been taken following rising infection rates in the community. It is hoped the measures will reduce the transmission of the virus into local hospitals from visitors and help protect both patients and staff. 

Some trusts have had visiting restrictions in place for a while but with cases of COVID-19 rising in the community a decision has been made to introduce visiting restrictions at a system level.

Cath Byford, Chief Nurse at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “With COVID-19 cases rising in the community we have taken this difficult decision to once again postpone routine hospital visiting. Our hospitals in Norfolk and Waveney are currently very busy and we need to protect our staff and patients.

“This is not a decision that has been made lightly and we recognise that this may cause distress for patients and their families. Exceptions will be made on compassionate grounds, on a case by case basis. These visits must be pre-arranged with the ward team in charge. The safety of our patients, staff and the local community is a priority.

“The current suspension is for a two week period and starts today, Wednesday 3 November. This will be reviewed in a fortnight and we will keep the public informed of any changes. We would like to thank everyone for their patience and support during this continuing difficult time and we urge people to be kind and respectful to healthcare staff who continue to do their very best to provide the care patients need.”

Mrs Byford added: “We continue to encourage local people to help us by following national guidance by wearing a face covering in enclosed public spaces, social distancing and regular hand washing.”

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