Covid: South West hospitals suspend patient visits over Omicron fears

Visits have been suspended at two South West hospitals amid a rise in Covid cases. Credit: PA

Hospitals in the South West have suspended routine visits to patients because of a rise in Covid cases.

Visitor restrictions have been introduced at Bath’s Royal United (RUH) and Swindon’s Great Western (GWH) hospitals.

Bosses say the decision has been made to protect staff and patients as cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise.

The rules do not apply to maternity and children’s wards and to patients having end-of-life care.

Visitor restrictions have been introduced at Swindon's Great Western Hospital.

Toni Lynch, who is chief nurse at the RUH, said: "Suspending visiting isn't a decision we take lightly.

"However, as the Omicron variant spreads, we have had to take this step in order to keep our patients and staff safe. That's always our top priority.

"Patients are encouraged to use phone calls and video calls, and our staff will help with this wherever possible."

The hospitals say current visitor restrictions - which also include wearing a face covering and taking a lateral flow test - will be kept under review.

Visitors should wear a face mask inside hospitals and take a lateral flow test in advance.

In a statement, the GWH said they were encouraging patients to keep in touch with loved ones via WhatsApp.

“We understand this is difficult for many families and friends, as well as patients, but we want to do all we can to keep you safe,” the statement said.

“Visiting or speaking with friends and family is important to the wellbeing of our patients and we are doing all we can to help patients stay in touch with their loved ones with WhatsApp video calls.”