Visiting restrictions to be lifted at Friarage and Friary hospitals

The future of the Friary Hospital in Richmond remains unclear.

Visiting restrictions at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are set to return to a new normal today following changes to national guidelines.

From tomorrow patients at The James Cook University Hospital, Friarage Hospital and Redcar, East Cleveland and The Friary community hospitals will be welcome to have up to two visitors at a time with open visiting seven days a week from 2pm to 4.30pm and from 6pm to 8pm.

Visitors will no longer need to book appointments to see friends and relatives on the wards unless they are in critical care.

To ensure the safety of patients and visitors, there will still be infection prevention measures in place and visitors will be asked to sanitise their hands as they enter and leave hospitals and the wards, and some visitors will be asked to wear face masks in high-risk areas.

The trust suspended visiting at the beginning of the pandemic to help keep patients, staff and service users safe.

Following the success of the national vaccination programme, restricted visiting was introduced in February this year for an hour a day on an appointment basis.

But from tomorrow visiting restrictions will be relaxed and patient centered visiting will be launched, with new visiting times introduced following inpatient feedback.

Visitors will be able to drop into the wards at any time between 2pm and 4.30pm or between 6pm and 8pm without an appointment.

As per rules previous to the pandemic, visitors will be limited to two at each bedside at any one time and will be asked to gel their hands when entering and leaving ward areas.

Visitors must not attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (or any infectious disease) or have tested positive for COVID-19.

Visitors are no longer required to wear face masks unless they are attending a high-risk area (such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, renal or emergency department) or visiting a patient who is immunocompromised or has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. See southtees.nhs.uk for more details

Some visiting restrictions will continue to be required from time to time on wards where two or more patients have COVID-19 to help keep patients and visitors safe.

Amy Oxley, deputy chief nurse – operations said: “Visiting has been carefully restricted since the beginning of the pandemic to help protect our most vulnerable patients, but we are delighted to welcome back more visitors as we know how much it means to our patients.

“Please remember to wash or gel your hands regularly and to wear a face mask in our high-risk areas which are clearly signposted.

“We also want to remind people that COVID-19 has not gone away, and it is more important than ever for everyone in our communities to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, which remain our best form of defence against the virus.

“It’s not too late to catch up if you’ve missed boosters, or even first doses, so please take your recommended vaccines.”