Patients and visitors in local hospitals and healthcare settings are being asked to continue wearing a mask on site, even after ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July.
Local NHS leaders have explained that whilst restrictions are being lifted in most public places, strict Infection Control needs to be followed in hospitals and healthcare settings, to stop vulnerable people from being placed at additional risk.
They are asking people to wear a mask in hospitals and healthcare settings, to wash hands regularly and to practice social distancing. The county’s three hospital trusts (Sherwood Forest Hospitals, Nottinghamshire Healthcare and Nottingham University Hospitals) have also explained that they will still need to restrict access to visitors in hospital and to limit the number of people accompanying people to appointments. They are also asking people to self-test before visiting hospital settings.
Jane Warren is a 54 year old COPD patient being treated at King’s Mill Hospital and has been shielding since the start of the pandemic due to being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. She explains: “People wearing masks helps me to feel safer, even if they wear a face shield. If you don’t wear a mask you are putting people like me at risk. I would advise everyone to wear a mask and keep their distance whilst in the hospital to help protect other patients and staff as well.”
Julie Hogg, Chief Nurse and Infection Control Lead at Sherwood Forest Hospitals explains: “The public and our patients have been so supportive during the past 16 months and we can’t thank them enough. Our ask today is that they keep on supporting us so that we can keep vulnerable patients safe.
“We know that restricted compassionate visiting is particularly hard and we review this regularly so that we can increase visiting as soon as possible. Covid is still at a higher rate in the local community than we would like and until infection rates come down, every visitor increases the risk of infection either coming into our hospital or going out with a visitor.
“If you or your loved one had a compromised immune system or were recovering after a serious operation, you would want us to do everything we could to keep them safe. Patients with these conditions are being treated in our hospitals every day, so we need to keep rules in place for a bit longer. Please bear with us and please keep helping us so that we can help you and your loved ones.”
Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at NUH adds: “People are rightly asking why restrictions will stay in place at hospitals. The simple answer is to protect some of our most vulnerable patients, for example, children undergoing cancer treatment and dialysis patients.
“Contracting Covid could be very serious or even life threatening for these patients, which is why we’re asking everyone to continue with face masks, social distancing and hand washing in hospitals. It’s a small price to pay to protect the health and lives of others.
“With every person inside hospital the risk of passing on Covid increases, particularly with community rates being do high, and with the new Delta variant even more transmissible. As well as the potential harm to patients, if our staff go off sick or have to self-isolate, it will impact our ability to deliver services. It’s also important for people to understand that if our hospitals fill up with very poorly Covid patients, as they did during the peak of the virus, our work to restart non urgent and elective services may have to be put on hold again.”
“The best advice for visitors remains to get booked in for your Covid jab if you haven’t already and self-test before and after visiting. Whilst in hospital wear a surgical face mask at all times, keep your distance from others, wash your hands, stick to local ward instructions and signage and leave the hospital promptly when your visit is over.”
Julie Attfield, acting Chief Executive and Executive Director of Mental Health, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “Despite restrictions lifting on Monday 19 July, face coverings and social distancing will still be required across all our healthcare settings. With rising infections, it’s important we keep our patients and staff as safe and well as possible. So, this means patients and visitors will need to continue to wear a mask, socially distance and use hand sanitiser when on a Nottinghamshire Healthcare site and our staff will continue to wear PPE.
“To help us on our journey back to some normality, I encourage everybody eligible to get their Covid vaccination, it’s the best way to protect yourself, your friends and family and your NHS staff. I’d also like to extend my thanks to the public for their continued support throughout the pandemic and ask that you bear with us a little longer and support us with these continued measures to reduce the risk in healthcare settings.”
Dr Stephen Shortt, Joint Clinical Leader at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, said: “It’s really important to remember that whilst restrictions are set to change from Monday, Covid-19 has not gone away and cases amongst our communities are still extremely prevalent.
“The safety of patients and staff across all healthcare settings remains a top priority. We are therefore urging patients to continue wearing face masks and practice social distancing when attending appointments at GP surgeries or visiting hospital settings to ensure high quality patient care can continue to be provided in the safest way possible.”