It is extremely concerning that despite all Covid restrictions being lifted, people at some hospitals and care homes are still faced with endless red-tape when wanting to visit loved ones.
Patient outcomes are improved by contact, both physically and psychologically but it seems the amount of contact someone has is based on where they are.
I have spoken to many constituents who are still struggling to see elderly relatives in care homes both locally and further afield. Some care homes are only allowing visits from a number of named people and in hospital settings the problem appears worse in many areas with inpatients only being allowed one designated visitor throughout their entire stay. This rule extends to sick children with only parent being allowed to be with their child. At what must be one of the worst times in their lives, one parent is having to stay away – it is appalling. Shockingly, some NHS trusts still have a blanket ban on visiting.
Most infection control measures that restricted visiting in healthcare settings have been removed and it has been reported that NHS Trusts told healthcare workers that patients and visitors no longer need to distance in hospitals, so I fail to see why and how these visiting restrictions are still in place in any healthcare setting. If there is a Covid outbreak and short term measures need to be taken to protect the most vulnerable, that is obviously the right thing to do. However, many settings up and down the country still have everyday restrictions in place – denying residents and patients the benefits visitors can bring.
In Parliament I co-chair the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Pandemic Recovery and this week we heard from medics and mental health workers about how visiting restrictions are affecting patients, even to the point of refusing care and treatment. Concerns were raised about safeguarding, hygiene, nutrition as well as loneliness and the impact on mental health.
People are being denied human contact, or in some cases, someone to advocate for them. The physical health and emotional wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable is being damaged and it needs to end.
It is now time Government, Local Authorities, the NHS, the Care Quality Commission, and all organisations involved act and end these cruel restrictions and reopen their doors.
I have written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid asking him to set out clear guidelines for patient visitor access to ensure no resident or patient is starved of contact.