Visiting a patient

Visiting guidance

The latest information for:

There is different visiting guidance for: 

There might be some areas in our hospitals where guidance is slightly different or there are extra rules to keep people safe. 

Please check with the ward or department before visiting.

Outpatient departments and the emergency department (A&E)

Patients should attend outpatient appointments and the emergency department alone where possible.

This does not apply to patients who need a chaperone or a carer for support.

A friend, carer or family member can collect you from the entrance of the hospital when you're leaving. If you need help to get to the entrance to meet them, one of our porters or nursing staff will help you.

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

Adult inpatient wards

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

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.

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

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.

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.

During your visit

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

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

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.

All visitors must:

  • use hand gel when entering any clinical area or wash their hands
  • wear the surgical face mask we provide at our hospital entrances
  • keep your mask on at all times during your visit
  • wear more personal protective equipment (PPE) for the clinical area you are visiting if you're asked to
  • follow the 1-way system in our hospitals
  • 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

Why we have these rules

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.

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: March 2022

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