Hospitals in England continue to prevent patients from seeing their loved ones because of policies left over from the lockdown era. The government is now being urged to banish those policies.
Number 10 Downing Street announced the national move towards “living with COVID” in February last year, but hospitals are still imposing visiting restrictions.
The Daily Telegraph this week analysed 125 acute hospital trusts and found that 88 still had some form of restrictions in place. Most common was “limiting visits to one hour, as well as restrictions on how many family members could visit mothers and newborns.”
Toby Young, editor-in-chief of the lockdown-critical news site The Daily Sceptic, has argued that visitation restrictions—which, during lockdown, resulted in countless documented and undocumented cases of individuals dying without comfort from their loved ones—lacked solid justification even while COVID was at its peak, and are now totally “pointless.” He told The European Conservative:
Whatever protocols hospitals introduced during the pandemic to reduce transmission clearly didn’t work. At least one in five people infected with COVID during the different waves caught it in hospital. So it’s time to abandon these pointless restrictions and let people visit their friends and relatives.
The removal of restrictions is required “urgently” for, among other patients, the mothers of newborn babies, according to Angela McConville, CEO of NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents. The NCT head highlighted that “new mothers are often left for long periods without help to access the bathroom, lift and feed their babies or even reach the food and water they need.” She added: “We urgently call on all hospitals to welcome partners.”
A new survey released by the Care Quality Commission suggested that while the government was pushing for the removal of COVID restrictions in early 2022, less than half (41%) of pregnant women were allowed their partner’s full support during birth. The report also pointed to a “concerning decline” in maternity experiences.
The government has signalled its disapproval of hospitals maintaining COVID restrictions but appears unwilling to clamp down on them. Health Secretary Steve Barclay is understood to be against imposing any “national diktats” against particular policies, while the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would simply “urge all trusts to follow the national guidance and ensure they are facilitating visits.”
Mr. Young told The European Conservative that Whitehall, the home of the UK government, should step in where hospital trusts refuse to remove restrictions. On this point, DHSC did not immediately respond to our request for comment.