VISITING at hospitals across County Durham and Darlington has now been suspended due to a ‘significant’ rise in Covid cases across the region.

The move from health chiefs brings Darlington Memorial Hospital and University Hospital of North Durham in line with several others in the region.

Visiting is already suspended at hospitals in Stockton South Tyneside and Sunderland due to the rise in Covid cases and concerns over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

A trust spokesman said the ban applies to all sites, including community hospitals in Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Sedgefield, Shotley Bridge, Weardale and the Richardson Hospital in Barnard Castle.

The Northern Echo:

Bishop Auckland Hospital 

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: “Due to the significant increase in Covid-19 cases we have made the extremely difficult decision to temporarily suspend visiting to adult inpatient wards within County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, effective immediately.

“Restricting visiting is not an easy decision, but we need to act to help protect our patients and our workforce.

“We very much recognise the many benefits visitors can bring to a patient's care and wellbeing; but we must also maintain our duty of care to protect our own people and all patients by minimising the risk of the spread of infection.

“We know this is very difficult for loved ones. We have iPads available on our wards so patients can be visited virtually and messages and photographs can also be shared through our popular 'Stay in Touch' scheme.”

Exceptions to restrictions on visiting include:

• Patients receiving end of life care

• Women in labour will be able to have one birthing partner

• One parent or carer will be able to accompany children in our emergency departments, children's wards and neonatal units

• Patients with dementia, a learning disability or autism and those who require a carer

• Where visiting will support discharge or the mental wellbeing of a patient this may also be arranged at the discretion of the ward manager/nurse in charge

Visitors are encouraged to be double-vaccinated and boosted where possible and will be required to produce evidence of a negative lateral flow test before coming into trust hospitals.

The trust spokesperson said: “We will continue to monitor and consider this position to look at the possible, safe reintroduction of visiting and how this would be managed.

“Current restrictions will remain in place while community prevalence, hospital admissions and outbreaks remain high.

“Please be kind to our colleagues when they are making arrangements with you, they are following our guidelines to help protect all patients."

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