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Hospitals are still banning patients from having bedside visitors in ‘immoral’ Covid restrictions.
Last night, MPs, patient groups and campaigners criticised the postcode lottery that means some frail patients are still denied the support of loved ones.
Nine trusts continue to impose total bans on any visitors for some patients, The Mail on Sunday has found.
Almost half of trusts maintain policies so strict that they flaunt NHS England’s guidance that patients should be allowed at least two visitors a day.
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are among those continuing total bans on visiting for some of their patients.
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) has even been imposing its draconian restrictions on disabled patients who need special help for their care – only allowing visits on three days a week for a maximum of an hour each time.
Alicia Kearns MP said: ‘Visitors save lives, they advocate and calm their loved ones. When will this madness end?’
Dozens of other trusts only allow one visitor to visit once a day for up to one hour – despite NHS England guidance on March 8 saying two visitors should be allowed for ‘at least one hour per day and ideally for longer’.
NHS infection prevention guidance, updated on April 14, reiterated this by stating: ‘Visits from [a] patient’s relatives and/or carers should be encouraged and supported.’ Hospital bosses are maintaining the restrictions despite plunging Covid cases.
New reported infections have plummeted since mid-March, from about 87,000 a day to fewer than 20,000.
Over the past month, Covid-related hospital admissions have almost halved, from 2,400 a day to 1,400. Of 125 hospital trusts in England publishing clear visitor policies online, only 66 are meeting the new guidance.
Fifty allow only one visitor a day – and in many cases they say this must be the same individual for the patient’s entire stay.
Nine are still banning visits for most patients, although several said they intended to restart visits in the coming days.
MPs have attacked the restrictions as ‘inhumane’.
Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said he met a man yesterday who was denied any chance of visiting his wife in hospital when she fell ill. The woman, in her 50s, died alone.
Sir Iain said: ‘It’s just shocking – an example of just how heartless this process is.’
The most restrictive trusts are in parts of London, the West Midlands and Norfolk.
Sandwell and West Birmingham only allows visitors on certain wards and just one visitor for up to 30 minutes a day.
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust, in Shropshire, does not allow any visitors on some wards.
Shrewbury and Telford bans visitors except for ‘compassionate’ and ‘exceptional’ circumstances. It said from Tuesday that all patients can have one visitor for an hour a day.
Sir Iain said: ‘People need to see their loved ones. There is no reason why they can’t.’
Tory MP Alicia Kearns said: ‘It is utterly unforgivable and immoral. There is no scientific evidence for any remaining inhumane restrictions on visiting. Trusts are breaching the rights of families.
‘Visitors save lives, they advocate and calm their loved ones. When will this madness end?’
Lou Flynn has been desperate to visit her mother in hospital in Birmingham but says she has been banned. ‘We are so gutted we cannot see her,’ she said.
After being approached by the MoS, UCLH said it plans to allow ‘daily visiting for every patient’ but declined to specify how long for or for how many visitors.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘In line with the latest guidance, NHS Trusts should facilitate patient visits and measures should already be in place for this to be done safely.’
Source: Daily Mail