The Trust announced this evening it was taking the “very emotive and difficult” step due to continued pressures on hospitals and care facilities and that indications of Covid-19 transmission levels are rapidly rising in the community.
In a statement, the Trust said that after assessing all elements of risk and in order to protect patients, visitors and staff, the decision has been made to temporarily suspend visiting on all sites and facilities within the Western Trust.
This suspension will now apply from midnight tonight and will be reviewed on New Year’s Eve.
“Restriction of visiting is very emotive and difficult, causing distress for families, patients, residents and staff, but it is essential that these updated visiting restrictions are effectively applied to ensure safety of all,” said the Trust.
“There will again be certain exceptional circumstances where visiting will be possible.”
The Trust said it acknowledges this is “a very difficult time for the public”.
“We ask, however, that you to work with us and we appeal to patients and visitors to respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times.
“The Trust operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and we will not accept any form of abuse towards our staff.”
The statement indicates that virtual visits can continue to be arranged on a smartphone or tablet.
“Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up.
“Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.
“We are very sorry that we have had to make the difficult decision of suspending visiting temporarily to all our hospitals and facilities.
“We understand how important visiting opportunities are for people and reluctantly apply this restriction in the best interest of the health and safety of everyone.
“This arrangement is temporary and will be reviewed on Friday, December 31, 2021. We will update you when the position changes,” the Trust added.