Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has announced a further gradual reduction in its visiting restrictions following the start of a relaxation of rules for visitors in April.

The announcement, linked to the ongoing decline in COVID cases in the area, means that more people will be able to visit family, friends and loved ones while they are in hospital. However, significant restrictions will remain in force.

The trust which runs Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and Andover War Memorial Hospital is promoting the positive impact relatives, loved ones, carers and friends can have on a patient by welcoming visits in a covid-secure way.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief nurse Julie Dawes said: “We know how important it is for our patients to see their friends and family and are really pleased to be able to make gradual changes from today.

“Keeping our patients, staff and visitors safe is our top priority, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation in our hospitals and the wider community.  

“As such, everyone who is coming to our hospitals must continue wear surgical face masks, wash their hands at regular intervals and socially distance at all times.”

Visits must be booked in advance by contacting the nurse in charge of the ward or department however visits from children under 12 are not permitted at this time except in maternity where siblings can visit or where a patient is receiving palliative or end of life care.

“We’re encouraging visitors to be driven to and from hospital by a member of your household wherever possible to minimise the risk of exposure to others. We’re also asking that visitors go directly to and from the ward in question and not visit other areas of the hospital.” continued Julie.

Visits to palliative and end of life patients have been permitted throughout the pandemic, and are not limited to one visitor, though full infection control measures such as handwashing, surgical masks and social distancing must be followed.

“We also want to reiterate that we know how important it is to be able to visit friends and family when they are in hospital and how beneficial it is for patients, but that this must take place in the safest way possible - returning to normality will continue to be a gradual process.” concluded Julie.

Patients can also connect with their relatives and friends through virtual visits, with iPads on wards to help these conversations to take place. There is also a messaging service in place to provide friends and family with an opportunity to share messages with their loved ones in hospital. Click here for the Stay in Touch service.

For more complete information on visiting permissions and restrictions click here.