ROTHERHAM’S soaring Covid-19 infection rate has led Rotherham Hospital to suspend all visiting to adult wards except in limited exceptional cases.
The hospital’s managing trust said the borough had the highest community infection rate in South Yorkshire and one of the highest across Yorkshire and the Humber.
Health bosses at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said they had made the “extremely difficult decision” as a result of “the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the local community”.
Victoria Hazeldine, deputy chief nurse at the trust, said: “The welfare of our patients, their families and our staff is our top priority.
“Rotherham has one of the highest community infection rates in the region and this poses a greater risk to our hospital patients if we allow visiting at this time.
“We understand it is difficult when a loved one is in hospital and how important visiting is to our patients and their families, making this an extremely difficult decision to make.”
There are some exceptions to the new restrictions - patients with learning disabilities, autism or dementia will be able to have one visitor and those receiving end of life care can have one visitor at a time after discussion with the nurse in charge on the relevant ward.
Visiting for maternity services and the special care baby unit is not changing.
Paediatric patients on the children’s ward or attending the urgent and emergency care centre can also have one parent or guardian with them at a time.
Visiting for these patients can be arranged by contacting the ward directly. Anyone planning to visit the hospital should take a lateral flow test and only attend if the result is negative, they are well and have no Covid-19 symptoms. Face coverings must be worn when in the hospital building, the trust said, adding that people attending outpatient clinics or the urgent and emergency care centre should go in alone unless specific the visiting criteria is met or they need assistance, when one other person can accompany them.
Full details of the hospital's visiting restrictions are on the website: www.therotherhamft.nhs.uk/News/Current/Visiting_restrictions/
Visiting at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also been temporarily stopped from today after Omicron transmission in hospitals was linked to visiting.
Chief nurse Chris Morley said: “Sadly the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is now spreading rapidly in the local community and, whilst we have been trying to maintain some visiting because we realise how important this is to patients and relatives, unfortunately the increase in cases does now pose a greater risk of our patients acquiring the virus.
“A proportion of people with Omicron appear to have no symptoms and regrettably as a result we have seen some transmission in our hospitals which has been linked to visiting.
“We have to put the protection of our patients, some of whom are vulnerable or immuno-compromised, as our first priority and so we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily stop all visiting unless there are exceptional circumstances.”
For end of life care patients, visiting can be arranged by contacting the ward directly.
One birthing partner or nominated support person will also be allowed during labour and birth at Jessop Wing, and can visit the antenatal and postnatal wards by arrangement with the ward.
For more information visit www.sth.nhs.uk/visitors.
Both trusts say they will continue to monitor the situation regularly and will reinstate visiting as soon as they can do safely.