Visiting our hospitals
COVID-19 guidance for visitors
Update: COVID-19 guidance for visitors – from 18 April 2022
- You must not attend if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (whether you have tested positive or not) or have been in contact with anyone who has tested COVID-19 positive in the last seven days.
Our visiting guidance has been updated in line with the Government’s easing of national COVID-19 restrictions.
You can also read the full maternity department visiting guidance here.
Who can visit?
From Monday 18 April 2022, visiting is permitted without restrictions as follows:
- Where assistance is being provided for communication e.g. for patients with learning disabilities, dementia, mental health, emotional, religious, spiritual or compassionate care needs
- Where the visitor is an unpaid or paid carer or personal assistant
- Both parents, carers and guardians of children and young people
- For end-of-life patients, where more than two visitors may be permitted at the ward manager’s discretion
For other patients, the two visitors must be booked in advance and:
- The visitors should be the same people throughout the stay.
- Visiting will be for one hour, in agreement with the nurse in charge.
- Visitors should call the ward to arrange the appointment by calling the ward on 01279 44 44 55 (switchboard) or on their direct dial numbers, available here.
Visits should be booked the day before and ward managers will determine visiting times. You will be advised of the exact visiting hours on the ward when you book your appointment.
Information for other services
This information also applies in outpatient and diagnostic services settings and the emergency department, where the patient may be accompanied by a close family contact, or somebody important to the patient, to support with complex/difficult decision making, communication and receiving difficult news.
- Personal belongings: You should bring as few personal belongings as possible with you, e.g. bags, electronic devices, gifts. Food for the patient should be particularly avoided.
- Clothing: On arrival, you should remove outer clothing, e.g. your coat or jacket, roll up your sleeves and wash your hands.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE ): In some settings, in addition to wearing a face covering, you may be required to wear additional PPE. Our teams will guide and support you. Going to the toilet and having had a small drink before putting on PPE can help avoid the need to remove it and put it back on during the visit.
- You do not need to self-isolate following your visit. Wash or sanitise your hands regularly and wear PPE when required.
Virtual visiting and message to a loved one
Our visitor information service enables family and friends of inpatients to keep in contact with their relatives and stay informed about their care when they are unable to visit in person.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01279 962661 (lines open 9am-12pm) to arrange your ten-minute video call and find out how to join the call that will be hosted on secure video conferencing software, or to find out more about your loved one's care.
You can find more information on virtual visiting here.
You can also keep in touch with your loved one by sending a message to them. Please email email@example.com or call 01279 962661 (lines open 9am-12pm). You can read more about the message to a loved one service here.
Where to go for help
Please remember that the emergency department (ED) is for patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. If you do not have serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, there are a range of services available for you. This includes NHS 111, Urgent Treatment Centres, your GP or pharmacy. You can access more information here.
Norovirus (vomiting bug)
Please do not visit our hospitals if you have been unwell with sickness and/or diarrhoea, or you have been in contact with someone with these symptoms, until at least 48 hours after experiencing the last symptom.
Norovirus can spread very easily from person to person – please protect our patients and people by not visiting our hospitals until you are better.
Patient and next of kin contact tracing
We understand that your loved one being in hospital during this unprecedented time is one of the most difficult experiences you may go through. To keep the important people in our lives informed and safe, we are working with Essex County Council and Public Health England to contact our patients and their next of kin, where appropriate. If you would like to know more about how we use data, then please read our privacy notice.
If you wish to send a message to a relative in hospital, please refer to the details above.
Filming and photography
We recognise, whilst at our hospital, our patients or their families may wish to mark an occasion, such as the birth of a baby, with a photograph or video. While we support this, we have a duty to ensure that the privacy of other individuals within our hospital is respected.
Our patients or their families may take photos of themselves for personal reasons and for their own personal use only. Before any filming or photography is conducted:
- Consent and permission for the images to be taken must be given by the senior nurse or matron on duty
- Consent must also be sought from the patient or individual in the photo or video. Consent can only be obtained if the patient or individual has the capacity to give it. If they do not have the capacity to give consent, then the filming or photography must not be taken
- It is not permitted for any patient, carer, or visitor to film or photograph our staff or any part of the premises without written consent
- Patients, carers, and visitors found to be breaching this policy could be asked to leave the premises, which may result in police intervention and/or legal proceedings
We offer a free NHS Wi-Fi service to all patients, visitors and guests at The Princess Alexandra main site in Harlow.