VISITOR restrictions at hospitals across the region have been lifted.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which operates both Hexham General and Haltwhistle War Memorial hospitals, has announced that partial visitor restrictions in place since mid-December to prevent the spread of norovirus, or the vomiting bug as it is known, have been lifted as of Wednesday, with original visiting times reinstated.

Elaine Henderson, the trust's director of nursing, said: “It’s been another long hard winter but people should be in no doubt that these restrictions, put in place early after lessons learned from 2017/18, have made a huge difference.

“We know it’s hard to have restrictions on visiting loved ones when they are in hospital and we only implemented them to keep our patients and staff safe. In spite of this, we have had nothing but the greatest support from the public and are hugely grateful for it.”

The only exception to the lifting of restrictions is that the prohibition on children under 12 visiting the trust’s sites will remain in force for the time being.

Elaine said: “For now we have taken the decision to maintain restrictions on children under 12 being visitors at our hospitals. This is due to this age group being both very vulnerable to, and the most likely to carry, infections.

“We understand that this can cause difficulties but we must remain mindful that flu is still circulating in the wider community.

“We will keep this under constant review with a view to lifting it as soon as possible.”