Opinion: Peterborough’s hospital should be open to visitors

Peterborough’s MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 19th March 2022, 2:41 pm
Hospital visiting.

The past two years have been tough for everyone, especially those with loved ones in hospital and care homes.

One of the most heart-breaking aspects of this pandemic has been the restrictions on visitors to these.

The impact on patients, their friends and family, as well as hospital staff, cannot be ignored.

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The benefits of family and friends visiting loved ones in hospital cannot be underestimated.

I spoke to a friend of mine a few weeks ago.

He told me the story of how he was still not being allowed to see his elderly relative while she was treated in hospital, despite the fact he was her main carer and that English was not her first language.

The patient struggled to understand what doctors and nurses were telling her.

It must have been very distressing and confusing.

Hospital visits provide joy, hope, an improvement in wellbeing, and, for vulnerable patients and those with dementia and language barriers, assistance with communicating.

This close bond between patients and their visitors has been taken away over the past two years.

Throughout the pandemic the Government’s aim has been to ensure that patient safety is maintained, and to this end has always sought appropriate clinical guidance on how visits can be conducted safely.

Thanks to the progress made, and particularly the successful booster programme, it has been particularly pleasing to see that in care homes, restrictions have been eased, allowing residents to see more of their loved ones.

However, the number of constituents who have contacted me about continuing restrictions in place at Peterborough City Hospital cannot be ignored.

I wrote a letter a few weeks ago to hospital bosses and they did act. They piloted a new scheme with a named visitor, but I am afraid this is not enough.

Another constituent I bumped into while shopping in town told me a story about their father-in-law, and how his wife (daughter of the patient) has been denied seeing her dying father while he lays in hospital because her sister is the named visitor.

Enough is enough. This is having a negative impact on both patients and their family and friends.

Other stories I have heard are unimaginable; patients dying alone and others who do recover, suffering from a sense of loneliness, unable to have in-person contact.

The Government removed all remaining Covid restrictions from February 24, but restrictions still remain in place at many hospitals.

Thanks to a combination of the vaccination programme and a high level of immunity, Covid-19 is less lethal than flu for the majority of people in England.

Although Covid is still within the community, an increase in admissions as a result of testing positive for Covid is thus less likely. The argument for continuing visitor restrictions bears little evidence.

It is now time to reinstate normal practice for visitors at hospitals to restore a sense of normality for patients, their friends and families.

- Do you agree with me? Let me know by emailing me – [email protected]