An NHS trust has suspended visits to all adult patient wards in South Tyneside and Sunderland due to increasing coronavirus cases.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust says it has seen a rise in the number of confirmed Covid-19 hospital admissions over the past week as the number of cases in both local communities continues to rise.
It has now made the “difficult but important decision” to suspend visiting to all adult inpatient wards at its hospital.
From Friday, September 11 visiting to all adult inpatient wards will be temporarily stopped to protect both staff and patients, many of whom are vulnerable and at higher risk of serious complications from Covid-19.
This also includes visitors to the Trust’s Intermediate Care and Rehabilitation (ICAR) Unit based at Houghton Primary Care Centre.
The move comes as residents in South Tyneside and Sunderland are being urged to do their bit and closely follow public health guidance to avoid further restrictions being imposed after a sharp rise in cases in the local community.
The trust is advising that visiting will not be allowed at this time, except in the following circumstances. Where visiting is permitted PPE must be worn:
· Patients receiving end of life care (visiting arrangements will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge)
· Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner and can bring one person with them to their scan appointments only
· One parent or carer will be able to accompany children in our children’s emergency department, children’s wards and neonatal unit
· Patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer will be able to have one person accompanying them.
Anyone attending an outpatient appointment and those coming into the Emergency Departments at South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital should attend alone and are reminded that they will need to wear a face mask, practice good hand hygiene and maintain social distancing at all times.
The trust says it will continue to provide virtual visiting via iPads for patients who do not have the means to contact family and friends and will continue to pass on messages, letters and photos through its #SendingLove scheme.
Full details of the scheme can be found on the trust website www.stsft.nhs.uk .
As many other areas in the country face the prospect of local lockdowns, local health leaders are saying now is the time to make sure people are aware of the rules and to be clear of the consequences of not following them.
In some cases, you could be breaking the law and people found flouting these rules could be fined.
They are reminding people to:
· Keep your distance and follow rules on social distancing – please stay apart two metres from others where possible. If it isn’t – one metre with mitigations such as a face covering.
· Know how many households you can mix with – whether that’s overnight, inside or outside. Doing this reduces the risk of spreading the virus. It is against the law for groups of more than six people to take place in private – including gardens and outdoor spaces.
· Wear a face covering – especially in enclosed public spaces when social distancing can be difficult or when you are in contact with people you would not normally meet. This includes when you are using public transport, car sharing and using taxis. Please remember to wear a face covering if you are attending health care settings such as a hospital, clinic, GP surgery or pharmacist.
· Keep those hands extra clean – wash hands for 20 seconds and often. Use soap and water to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. It is especially important to do this when you
get home or into work
blow your nose or sneeze
eat or handle food or drinks
Dr Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have had to take the difficult decision to suspend visiting to all adult inpatient wards across our hospitals due to the rise in cases of Covid-19 that we are now seeing in our local community and our hospitals.
“We understand that this will be frustrating for family and friends of our patients, but we need to do all we can to protect patients and staff and minimise the risk of the virus spreading across our hospital sites.
“Coronavirus is still very much out there and it is vitally important that everyone does their bit to protect themselves and others, especially those who are most vulnerable in our community.
“It is vitally important that we all take responsibility for controlling the virus by continuing to follow government guidance.
“This means washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or more, social distancing and wearing face masks or coverings to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
“We also ask that anyone feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of Covid-19 do not come into our hospitals and arrange to be tested as soon as possible.”
Symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, new continuous cough and a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must isolate immediately and call 119 and arrange for a test.
If you develop symptoms your household contacts will also be required to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation is available on the NHS website .