Visiting our hospitals
COVID-19 restrictions for supporting patients and visiting
We understand how important loved ones are to our patients, however, at this time as we manage the demands of COVID-19 and in order to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe we have to restrict the number of people attending our hospital sites:
Visiting is permitted where a nominated immediate family member or carer can attend the Emergency Department, visit an inpatient or an outpatient appointment with a patient where:
- The patient you wish to visit is receiving end-of-life care
- You are the birthing partner accompanying a woman in labour or nominated support person at times other than labour.
- You are a parent or carer visiting your child.
- You are supporting someone with a mental health issue, who has dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
Please contact the department or ward in advance to discuss appropriate arrangements.
Please be respectful to our teams if they ask you to leave a department or ward, as we have a responsibility to ensure that our patients and people are safe. Please also be reminded that visitors must not arrange to meet an inpatient outside of their ward area or department.
All visitors must follow the national guidance below and follow the advice of our people.
How to keep in touch with 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 whilst visiting restrictions are in place.
Please email email@example.com 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 also call a member of the team on 01279 827383 between 9am-12 noon. Please send your email or call the team before 12pm (noon) if you would like your message delivered on the same day.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01279 82 7262. You can read more about the message to a loved one service here.
Please wear a face covering when coming to our hospital
In line with recent recommendations from the World Health Organisation, please ensure that you wear a face covering at all times when coming to our hospital in order to keep our patients and our people safe.
People infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others without being aware of it.
What does this mean for me?
Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website. Face coverings worn as part of religious beliefs or cultural practice are also acceptable, providing they are not loose and cover the mouth and nose.
We are asking that you plan in advance and bring a face covering with you whenever possible, but if you do not have one available when you come to hospital, please speak to a member of staff on arrival and we will provide you with one.
For some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions. In these instances, other measures will be considered on a case by case basis, for example timed appointments and being seen immediately on arrival.
If you are deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include the use of clear masks where possible, as well as visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.
You will be expected to comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene measures in addition to the face coverings while in the hospital setting.
Please adhere to the national guidance
Please ensure that you follow the national guidance on social distancing and self-isolation, staying at home wherever possible, to help limit the spread of coronavirus, protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and our NHS.
Your health, safety and wellbeing, that of our patients, communities and our people remain our absolute priority.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding at this challenging time.
A reminder for all our visitors to continue to follow the usual guidance before visiting and whilst at our hospitals:
- All visitors must wash their hands before and after visiting relatives
- Visitors must be over the over the age of 16 – children are not allowed
- Please do not enter the hospital in you feel unwell
- If you have a high temperature or new cough please return home and self-isolate
- Please only visit the areas of the hospital where your relative or friend is staying
- Our restaurant is currently closed to visitors to give our staff a place to be with each other and take some time to rest
- Drinks and snacks continue to be available from our onsite Costa and M&S. Please use this as a take-away facility
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.