Visiting our hospitals

COVID-19 guidance for visitors 

Update: COVID-19 guidance for visitors – from 8 June 2022

Our visiting guidance has been updated following the Government’s easing of national COVID-19 restrictions and we are now able to welcome visitors in line with this - please refer to the full information below.

You can also read the full maternity department visiting guidance here.

Who can visit?

Two visitors for each of our patients including those who are COVID-19 positive - visits must be booked in advance, and:

  • Visiting will be for one hour, in agreement with the nurse in charge.
  • Visitors should call the ward to arrange the appointment on 01279 44 44 55 (switchboard) or on their direct dial numbers, available on our wards page

Visiting is permitted without restrictions including for those who are COVID-19 positive 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

Visiting times

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. 

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.  

Information for other services

Our patients may be accompanied by visitors to support them in outpatient, diagnostic services and emergency department settings. During very busy times, due to our physical capacity, you may be asked to wait outside the department until the patient is called for their appointment to enable our seating areas to be prioritised for patients.     

Please note:

  • 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.
  • Face masks: You are not required to wear a face mask when attending our hospital, both in general spaces and areas where patients are cared for, except for in areas where patients have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or are at high risk of infection due to being immunocompromised. If you require more information, our teams will advise you.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE ): In some settings, you may be required to wear 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  paht.virtualvisiting@nhs.net 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  paht.messagetoalovedone@nhs.net 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

You can read our full policy, alternatively, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service for more information by calling 01279 827211 or email paht.pals@nhs.net. 
 

NHS Wi-Fi

We offer a free NHS Wi-Fi service to all patients, visitors and guests at The Princess Alexandra main site in Harlow.

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.