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Western Trust suspends hospital visiting amid rising Covid-19 pressures

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Signage at Altnagelvin Hospital where general visiting has been suspended. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.12.21

Signage at Altnagelvin Hospital where general visiting has been suspended. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.12.21

Signage at Altnagelvin Hospital where general visiting has been suspended. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.12.21

Signage at Altnagelvin Hospital where general visiting has been suspended. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.12.21

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Signage at Altnagelvin Hospital where general visiting has been suspended. Picture Martin McKeown. 30.12.21

Visiting at hospitals in the Western Health and Social Care Trust has been suspended on Thursday due to rising Covid-19 cases and increasing pressure on the health system.

The Trust said the suspension would be reviewed again on Friday, having been brought into effect at midnight.

They said the decision was taken in order to protect patients, visitors and staff and acknowledged the “very emotive and difficult” decision.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

It comes as Northern Ireland yesterday recorded 22,972 new cases of the virus in the five days from midnight on December 23 to midnight on December 28.

A further 14 Covid-related deaths were also recorded in the figures.

Hospitals have continued to be under pressure across Northern Ireland as a result of rising levels of transmission.

Earlier this week the Northern Trust warned Antrim Area Hospital had 44 “very ill patients” waiting on a bed in their emergency department.

Executive ministers are to hold a virtual meeting to review the latest Covid-19 data, however it is not expected there will be any changes to the current restrictions.

In a statement, the Western Trust said virtual visiting with relatives and friends in hospital was still available and apologised for the suspension.

They also said some visits would be allowed in “certain exceptional circumstances”.

“Due to the continued pressures on our hospitals/care facilities and indicators that levels of Covid-19 transmission are rapidly rising across our community, the Western Trust have assessed 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,” they said.

“This suspension will now apply from midnight on Wednesday 29 December 2021 and will be reviewed on Friday 31 December.

"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.

“The Trust acknowledges that 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.

“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.”


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