VISITORS are no longer permitted at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust sites for, at least, two weeks.

Restrictions have been reintroduced due to the rise in Covid cases and puts the trust inline with other North-East hospitals.

As of January 8, regular visiting was suspended at Hexham General Hospital and Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital - with the exception of visitors for patients receiving end of life care, maternity, the children's ward and special care baby unit (SCBU).

The trust has also said visiting is acceptable in other "exceptional circumstances" - including for long-stay patients, those with dementia or where best interest decisions are being discussed.

A birthing partner remains able to attend all planned and emergency maternity scans, appointments and assessments and throughout labour and the postnatal period.

Marion Dickson, the trust’s executive director for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, said: “This step has been taken extremely reluctantly as we are well aware of the benefits of patients being able to see friends and family in person.

"However, we have a duty to keep our patients and staff safe, and these restrictions are necessary at this time to ensure that we limit the spread of infection.

“We would like to thank all visitors and relatives for their support and cooperation at this time and hope that they can make use of some of the other measures we have put in place for them to communicate with patients.

"We will review these additional restrictions in two weeks’ time given the rapidly changing situation we find ourselves in currently.”

Those who can still visit are reminded to wear face coverings on site, wash their hands regularly and are advised not to attend if unwell. Visitors must also have evidence of a negative lateral flow test.

iPads will continue to be available on wards to facilitate ‘virtual’ visiting, while friends and relatives will be able to stay connected by ringing the trust’s patient line on 0191 295 2766, available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or sharing pictures/photos via