Web poll: Hospital seeks views on longer visiting hours

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A letter to the Bury Free Press has spurred West Suffolk Hospital to review its visiting hours.

Sara Evans, from Bury St Edmunds, wrote last week that she was surprised to find most wards at the hospital only have one hour of visiting time in the afternoon and another hour in the evening while other hospitals offer much longer.

West Suffolk Hospital’s 
executive chief nurse Nichole Day said on Tuesday: “It’s triggered me into thinking that maybe it’s time to review it.

“At the time we put that restriction onto visiting times we had had some infection outbreaks.

“There was also a government view that people in hospital are sick and need their rest and you don’t want interrupted meal times.

“At the time we consulted patients and they did want their rest.”

Some visitors could also be unthinking, being determined to stay to the end of visiting time even if the patient was flagging.

Ms Day said she encourages staff to be flexible where they can. “If someone is very ill and loved ones want to be there on a regular basis or people wanted to help with the care, it can be discussed,” she said.

She added senior nursing staff were finding that with shorter visiting times, at the end of the hour ‘everyone wants to see them at once’.

She said the hospital will seek the views of patients, visitors and staff.

What do you think? Vote in our web poll on the right.