Visiting banned again at New Cross Hospital after rise in Covid cases

Visiting has been suspended again at a Black Country hospital trust – due to Covid cases in the community.

New Cross Hospital, in Wolverhampton
New Cross Hospital, in Wolverhampton

A limited roll-out of visiting was introduced two months ago by the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust but was paused as of midnight on Thursday.

As well as affecting New Cross Hospital, the change means visitors are no longer allowed at Cannock Chase and West Park hospitals.

Hospital bosses say they will be reviewing the Covid cases in the community in a weekly basis. Services will continue to run as normal and all scheduled appointments will continue.

While the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed visiting was continuing on their sites.

A statement from Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said: "We are working hard to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to protect staff, patients and visitors from becoming seriously ill.

"With this in mind, we have made the decision to temporarily pause the limited pilot roll-out of visiting to our wards at New Cross, Cannock Chase and West Park hospitals.

"We can appreciate this may be frustrating for the family and friends of patients, but we can assure you that it is the safest precaution to take at this time. This pilot was not introduced in children’s, maternity and neonatal services.

"We will be reviewing the cases in the community on a weekly basis and will update you via our website and social media feeds."

It added: "Services are unaffected and will continue to run as normal. All scheduled appointments will continue as normal, unless patients have been individually contacted and told otherwise.

"Anyone who is coming in for an appointment is asked to wear a face mask and social distance as well as taking a lateral flow test.

"We would also encourage everyone to book a vaccine by calling 119."

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust had only allowed visitors once again at certain wards at New Cross Hospital, Cannock Chase Hospital and West Park Hospital from May 17. Visitors were asked to get a lateral flow test on site at New Cross Hospital by going to the mobile testing unit 40 minutes before their visiting slot. Patients were able to have two nominated visitors a week.

The pilot was not introduced in children's, maternity or neonatal services.

A spokesman for the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said visiting is still continuing at Walsall Manor Hospital. Visiting there restarted in May – with one visitor per patient per day who could stay for up to an hour. They were advised to take a rapid flow Covid test before visiting and show evidence of a negative result before entering the hospital.

When the restarting of visiting was allowed at the Walsall trust, bosses said it would depend on assuming "local case numbers of Covid-19 continue to fall".

A spokesman for the trust said: "Visitors to Walsall Manor Hospital have been welcomed back on to wards since mid-May, with arrangements kept under review to ensure the ongoing transmission risk of Covid-19 is minimised.

"Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust works closely with Public Health Walsall and has robust controls in place to monitor prevalence in the community.

"There are currently no plans to change visiting arrangements. These are being continually reviewed and Walsall Healthcare’s website and social media will be updated should the situation change."

Visits also continue at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. The trust, which runs County Hospital in Stafford and the Royal Stoke University Hospital, reviewed visiting in April and started to reintroduce visitors on site. All visitors are asked to access lateral flow tests before entering the hospitals.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust said if they see cases in hospitals rising again they would review visiting arrangements. But currently since June 18, 45 minute slots for one visitor per patient per day continue at Russells Hall Hospital.

Chief nurse Mary Sexton said: “We introduced booked appoints on 18th June, to allow 45 mins slots for one visitor per patient per day and visitors continue to be welcome at Russells Hall Hospital.

“Since implementing these new visiting measures we have seen no significant change in our Covid admission trends. We know how important visiting is to the people of Dudley and how essential contact with friends and family is for the wellbeing of our patients. We will monitor the situation closely and if we see cases in hospital rising again, we will review visiting arrangements.

“As a trust we also work closely with families whose loved ones are receiving end of life care and in some cases will make individual arrangements depending on the circumstances.”

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust has been approached for comment.

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