Western Trust executive director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People's Services, Dr Bob Brown.
FOLLOWING last week’s pause to visiting and after review by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), visiting restrictions at Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals are being “cautiously” eased for the next seven days, between today (Friday) and Friday, July 23.
As a result from July 16 and initially for a period of seven days, the Trust is adopting a '1-1-1' approach.
This means each patient, in both Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals, will be permitted one visitor, for a maximum time of one hour, once in the week.
The situation will be reviewed again on July 23.
The initial decision to impose visiting restrictions occurred on Friday 9 after a significant increase in COVID-19 transmission in the community, resulting in a sharp rise in admissions of COVID-19 patients.
The pause on visiting arrangements was scheduled for review after a period of one week, and although the North West remains the area of highest community transmission in Northern Ireland hospital admission numbers have remained relatively consistent.
Therefore the decision was taken by the Trust to cautiously facilitate visiting again in a phased way.
Presently the Western Trust has a total of 31 COVID positive patients, with 22 in Altnagelvin and 9 in the South West Acute Hospital.
Executive director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People's Services, Dr Bob Brown, said: "We are extremely grateful for the public’s understanding regarding our decision to pause visiting last Friday given the increasing COVID levels and hospital admissions being experienced at that time.
“We understand that changes to visiting arrangements can cause distress for family members as well as patients, however our first priority will always be patient and staff safety, and this informed the decision we took last Friday.
"We do recognise the importance of visiting as a means of supporting the wellbeing of patients and have further reviewed our position."
Outlining the '1-1-1' approach, he continued: "Simply, this means for the next seven days between, Friday 16 and Friday, July 23, each patient in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals will be permitted one visitor, for a maximum of one hour, on one occasion in that week.
“These adjustments come at a time when the Trust continues to deal with the additional pressures facing our Emergency Department teams.
"As a result we would ask that anyone attending our Emergency Department should attend alone unless they require someone else to accompany them for assistance or support."
Speaking about the Western Trusts ongoing mass vaccination programme, Dr Brown continued: “This rise in community transmission in the North West highlights again the massive importance of our vaccination programme.
“Our vaccination teams have already administered over 205,000 vaccine doses but we must continue to push forward with our efforts.
“In order to further facilitate everyone to receive the vaccine, we have now made all of our mass vaccination centres walk-in facilities, in addition to pre-booking your vaccine there. We are also now rolling out mobile vaccine walk-in clinics and I would urge everyone, and in particular those aged 18-29, to come forward now to get your vaccine.
“In light of this situation I would ask the public to continue to be vigilant to the risks of COVID-19 spread through adhering to all the COVID-19 guidelines currently in place such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand sanitising.
"Thank you and please continue to work together to stay safe.”
To find out more visit the Western Trust Vaccination Info page: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Vaccination