Updated guidance about hospital visiting has been published on Friday June 18 and will come into force on 5 July 2021.
This will provide advice and guidelines for all health providers in Wales.
The revised guidance includes the option for health boards and NHS trusts to use lateral flow devices or point-of-care (POC) testing to support hospital visiting. This will include making testing available for parents of children in hospital, pregnant women and their identified support partner and/or essential support assistants in maternity services.
Testing may be also considered for visitors to hospitals as part of a risk-assessed approach. Health providers should also consider the current community transmission rate, variants of concern, the vulnerability of particular patient groups and individual circumstances. The guidance sets out that health boards have the option to use a range of tests – including POC tests, supervised LFD tests or at-home LFD tests – if they want to use testing to support hospital visiting.
The new guidance has been amended to allow up to two parents, guardians or carers at a time to visit a child in a paediatric inpatient ward or baby in neonatal care, subject to local determination and following a risk assessment, including the ability to maintain social distancing. This follows recommendations from the Wales Maternity and Neonatal Network Board.
The guidance has also updated the hospice settings annex to include a statement about the availability of LFD testing for visitors to hospice settings.
The supplementary statement, which accompanies the guidance, sets out the baseline for visiting in Wales during the pandemic but allows health providers to depart from the guidance in response to rising or falling levels of COVID-19 transmission in their areas.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said:
Restrictions on visiting have a huge impact on patients and their loved ones. The new guidelines support health boards to make changes that provide further flexibility.
Sadly coronavirus has not gone away and with the emergence of new variants, like delta, we have to remain vigilant. The priority is to keep people safe but there is always a balance between protecting people from the virus and supporting the wellbeing of patients and their loved ones.