Visiting a patient

This page has information for our adult inpatient wards. There is different visiting guidance for: 

Visiting hours

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, contact the ward manager or nurse in charge before your visit. Exceptions are based on the needs of the patient.

Visiting adult inpatient wards

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.

Visits outside normal hours

We'll support additional visits outside normal visiting hours 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.

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. 

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.

Please do not visit if:

  • you have any respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing or sore throat 
  • you've been sick or have diarrhoea

When you visit, please make sure you:

  • use hand gel when entering any clinical area or wash your hands
  • 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
  • wear a surgical face mask or more personal protective equipment (PPE) in certain areas if you are asked to
  • allow members of our clinical teams to take you in and out of the area, if asked

Protected mealtimes

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.

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.

Other ways to keep in touch

Virtual visiting with a video call

We can organise a video call for a friend or relative. If you have a smartphone or tablet, download aTouchAway app for free from your app store.

Once you have a registered account you'll 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].

Calling the ward

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.

Calling your friend or family member directly

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.

Writing a letter

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: May 2024

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