Move to simplify visiting hours at Oxfordshire hospitals

The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143639009
The Horton General Hospital, Maternity Unit, in Banbury. NNL-160706-143639009

Visiting hours at the Horton General and other Oxfordshire hospitals will be changing from Monday (October 1) to make it more open and simpler to see patients.

The new visiting hours at all Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s hospitals will be from 10am until 10pm.

Following a successful trial of open visiting hours during the summer, the trust’s management is looking forward to implementing them.

Chief nurse Sam Foster said: “Up until recently, visiting hours varied from ward to ward, and this could sometimes be confusing or inconvenient for families visiting the hospital – especially when they need to park during peak times.

“By opening up these times, it makes things easier for visitors and also means that they can give more emotional support and assistance to their loved ones.”

Critical care and high dependency units are the only departments not to be included because they have comparatively limited space and offer more acute services, according to the trust.

The trust believes the new rules will reduce anxiety and stress, improve communication between staff and visitors, and increase emotional and physical support for patients.

Ms Foster said the changes will benefit patients, their loved ones and staff by making visiting the hospital as ‘easy and open as possible’.

“Patient care and well-being is paramount in all that we do, and visitor access will always be determined by whether the patient is well enough to have company,” she said.

“Wherever possible, however, we will look to make things as easy and as open for visitors as possible.”

The changes come from a consultation of more than 500 people on the prospect of open visiting hours earlier this year.

The feedback also helped form a new ‘visitors’ charter’, also launching on Monday, which outlines what visitors can expect from staff, and what will be expected of them when visiting our hospitals.

In January, the chief nursing officer for England said the NHS’ 70th anniversary was an opportunity to review hospital visiting restrictions, and was backed by a national campaign to welcome carers as visitors.