First UK hospital allows relatives to visit family dying of coronavirus

14 April 2020, 10:42

Royal United Hospital in Bath is allowing patients to visit their dying relatives
Royal United Hospital in Bath is allowing patients to visit their dying relatives. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Royal United Hospital in Bath has become the first to allow relatives to visit family members who are dying of coronavirus.

Under current government guidelines, family are not allowed to visit their loved ones whilst they are in hospital over fears of cross contamination.

The coronavirus has so far proved to be a highly contagious disease, with hospitals placed on tight lockdowns with only patients and staff permitted, leading to thousands of people dying without their loved ones by their side.

But the RUH have now brought in the changes, which only allow one person to visit at a time, and each visit is subject to approval based on circumstances.

Family members have been told to call ahead to arrangements.

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Coronavirus deaths in the UK have topped 11,000
Coronavirus deaths in the UK have topped 11,000. Picture: PA

A statement from the hospital said: "Across the NHS, visiting hospital trusts has been suspended except in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care.

“After careful consideration, we believe that we can, in some situations, safely support end of life visits for those with Covid-19, or awaiting test results.”

Medical Director Dr Bernie Marden said: “We are very pleased we have been able to change our position on this.“It is very important to us that we support patients and their loved ones at these most difficult moments.”

The move came after a nurse from the hospital branded the measures banning visitors as "inhumane and cruel".

In an open letter published in SomersetLive, the unnamed medical worker said: "The reality for many people is that the last they will see of their loved one is them being loaded into an ambulance and then being totally isolated from them as they die, eventually receiving a phone call informing them of their deterioration and eventual death.

“These measures seem cruel beyond belief. While I praise the trust for much of what it has done this simply seems inhumane.”

The number of deaths in the UK have now surpassed 11,000, with the true number expected to be much higher.

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