Visiting a patient

Visiting guidance

The latest information for our adult inpatient wards.

There is different visiting guidance for: 

There might be some areas in our hospitals where guidance is different or there are extra rules to keep people safe. Please check with the ward or department before visiting.

Visiting adult inpatient wards

Visiting hours are 2pm to 7.30pm, unless there are other agreements in place with the ward.

Please contact the ward you're visiting to confirm their visiting times. 

Outside these hours, you need to contact the ward manager or nurse in charge before your visit. Exceptions are based on the needs of the patient.

2 visitors are allowed to visit a patient, and can do so at the same time. 

Visitors do not have to book an appointment or be named. No children should visit adult wards unless agreed in exceptional circumstances

You should always follow directions from our staff. Please ask them if you're not sure.

Outpatient appointments and the emergency department

If you have an appointment at one of our hospitals or community sites, or need to go to the emergency department (A&E), you can bring someone with you for support. 

Read more about what to expect if you have an outpatient appointment.

During your visit

Many of our patients are vulnerable and our visiting rules help protect them from the risk of infection. 

Our visiting rules help us to provide the safest possible environment. You can read more about what we're doing to keep everyone safe in our hospital and community sites.

Don't visit if:

  • you have COVID-19 symptoms or your lateral flow test is positive
  • you've recently been in close contact with someone who's tested positive for COVID-19
  • you have any respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing or sore throat 
  • you've been sick or have diarrhoea

What we'll ask you to do

Visitors must remain at the bedside of the person they're visiting.

Most wards have protected mealtimes. You'll be asked to leave so that our patients can eat without interruption.

Sometimes we need to shorten visiting times to protect the welfare and privacy of all our patients. We'll tell you if this is the case.

In some areas, you'll also need to keep a safe distance from other people where possible and follow the signs which tell you where to wait and queue safely.

If a ward gets overcrowded, some visitors might be asked to leave so that physical distancing can be maintained.

All visitors must:

  • use hand gel when entering any clinical area or wash your hands
  • wear a surgical face mask if you are accompanying or visiting someone who has respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing or a sore throat
  • wear a surgical face mask or more personal protective equipment (PPE) in certain areas if you are asked to
  • only visit the unit where the patient is being cared for
  • avoid sitting on hospital beds
  • do not eat or drink at the bedside, for infection control
  • make sure mobile phones are on silent before visiting the unit. Mobiles can be used in the visitors' rooms
  • allow members of our clinical teams to take you in and out of the area, if asked

Sending or bringing flowers

If you wish to bring or send flowers, please check with the ward to see if they're allowed.

Flowers are not allowed in some areas of the hospital for risk of infection.

Visits in exceptional circumstances

We'll support additional visits in exceptional circumstances.

This might be when a patient:

  • is at the end of their life, or
  • receives difficult news and needs more support from loved ones

It also includes patients needing support from a carer outside of visiting hours.

Please ask a nurse on the ward for more information.

Other ways to keep in touch

We can organise a video call for a friend or relative.

If you have a smart phone or tablet, please download the free aTouchAway app and register your account:

Once you have a registered account you will need to:

  • contact the ward and provide them the email address used to set up the account
  • ask the ward to arrange a time for your virtual visit

Virtual visiting is possible thanks to our family communications team, who are supported by Life Lines.

For any support or further advice or feedback, please contact [email protected].

You can call the hospital switchboard on 020 7188 7188 and ask for the ward your friend or relative is staying on.

If possible, your friend or relative should nominate 1 person to call the hospital and act as a link for everyone else.

This helps our nursing staff care for patients.

To protect patient confidentiality, we can only give limited information over the phone.

In most cases, you can also call your friend or relative on their bedside phone. You'll be charged at a premium rate for these calls.

You may be able to call your friend or relative on their mobile phone.

Mobile phones are not allowed in certain areas of the hospital. Please check with the ward staff or your friend or relative.

You can write to your friend or relative in hospital.

Please make sure you address the letter or card with:

Visitor accommodation

There's visitor accommodation available at:

Last updated: December 2022

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