Visiting restrictions remain in place at hospitals due to Covid fears

High rates of coronavirus in the community and significant numbers of people still with the virus mean visitation restrictions are still in place at major hospitals in Birmingham. But it is hoped that they will be lifted next month, in time for Easter and Ramadan.

Limited visiting rules first introduced during the first wave of Covid-19 two years ago are still in place at Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, weeks after legal restrictions ended in the community.

Hospital chiefs at Birmingham University Hospitals said a still high number of Covid-positive patients in hospital and the prevalence of Covid-19 positive cases in the city meant they could not yet risk further vulnerable patients by reintroducing all visits.

Read more: Plea for end to ‘cruel’ ban on hospital visits after heartbreaking plea from West Bromwich father

There are still 218 Covid-positive hospital patients in the four hospitals, including four in intensive care beds. But it is hoped that, subject to the continued decline in community cases and hospitalizations, visitation restrictions could ease in April.

Local families have lobbied to end the restrictions, saying they are ‘cruel’ and largely unnecessary with the right precautions. Most hospitals in the region have so far maintained visitation bans, in some cases since March 2020, to reduce the risk of vulnerable patients catching Covid-19.

But it was a cause of distress for the families and also for the doctors, who often ended up becoming relatives by proxy for very sick people. Last month the family of West Bromwich 82-year-old Vincent Patterson begged to be allowed to visit him. He was taken to Sandwell Hospital with a suspected stroke, but was only allowed one brief visit a week.

His daughter Donna said at the time: “He was anxious and scared. I just don’t understand why the hospitals aren’t open to visitors anymore.”

The most recent statistics reveal that Birmingham has an overall infection rate of 164 cases per 100,000 people. Areas with rates over 200 are all in central Birmingham while Harborne is currently a hotspot with over 400 cases/100k.

At the height of the recent wave of the Omicron variant, case rates topped 3,800. The city is also still struggling to persuade more people to take their first, second and booster shots to protect them from the worst excesses. of the virus.

Through March 6, some 68.5% of eligible people had received a first dose, 62.1% had received a second dose and only 40.9% had received a booster dose. A spokesperson for the hospital trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, said: “We know it’s hard to be away from a loved one, especially when they’re not not going well.

“However, COVID-19 is still prevalent in our communities and we must continue to do all we can to keep vulnerable patients who are already hospitalized safe. We continue to encourage anyone who has not yet accepted offering a COVID-19 vaccine to do this, and we are maintaining the use of mask-wearing and social distancing in our hospitals for everyone’s safety.

The tour is available in a number of special circumstances – visit the trust’s website here for details.

BirminghamLive supports the roll-out of vaccination – vaccines have been rigorously tested and are recognized as the only way to protect our region against Covid-19 and to reopen all of our businesses safely.

But you may still have questions. You can ask your doctor for information and dedicated sites have also been set up by Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group and its partner CCG in Black Country and West Birmingham with everything you might want to ask about the local immunization rollout.

If you would like to make an appointment for a vaccine, visit the NHS vaccines website here.

We hope these other useful links will help you make health decisions for you and your family.

These include parents accompanying children, relatives at the end of life, people with dementia, a learning disability, autism, mental health disorders or specific communication needs. Visiting restrictions have already been eased at nearby hospitals in the city and Sandwell.

Trustees at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals are allowing inpatients on most wards to have one visitor each day for up to 30 minutes for a pre-booked visit, provided they provide a negative LFT test, show no Covid symptom, wear mask and sanitize hands. In Sandwell, the case rate has fallen to just 132 cases per 100,000 people – considered one of the lowest in the country.

On March 5 it was THE lowest of the 150 regions in England, said Dr Lisa McNally, the region’s director of public health. She said the landmark was a testament to the united community effort to protect each other.

She also announced that the borough’s much-loved local contact tracing team, which has worked to nip in the bud any outbreaks in schools, workplaces and community settings, will now be ending in accordance with guidelines. national. At its peak, the team helped drive up search rates locally, putting their feet on the ground and using local knowledge, cultural and linguistic expertise to encourage people to isolate and alert contacts. , and has been nationally praised for her work.

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