FOLLOWING an increase in Covid-19 cases in the community and healthcare settings in Somerset, and for the safety of patients, staff and visitors, people visiting on NHS wards will be restricted to 'exceptional circumstances'.

The policy came into effect at the start of this year.

For patients receiving end of life care:

  • For carers of patients with specific needs that require the support of a carer (e.g. patients with dementia);
  • A parent or guardian accompanying their child;
  • Maternity visiting remains unchanged – details HERE;
  • Children’s unit, neonatal unit, minor injuries unit, emergency department and outpatient department arrangements remain unchanged – details are below.

If you would like to visit in these exceptional circumstances, you should agree this with the ward team before travelling.

If your loved one is staying on an acute medical unit, surgical assessment unit or Barrington Ward, contact the family liaison team, which is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8.30pm and weekends from 9am to 3pm. Call 01823 344406 or 344308 or 07503177711.

Neonatal unit and children’s unit:

  • Two nominated people (usually parents) can visit individually. There is no limit to the time they can visit.

For all other wards, including community hospitals and mental health units, contact the ward direct – contact numbers are HERE.

A trust spokesperson said: "We realise this change may cause some distress, so we are continuing to operate our patient messaging service, which is especially helpful for those who might otherwise struggle to use or access a mobile phone.

"We will keep visiting arrangements under review and will look to relax them as soon as practicably possible."

Patient messaging service:

  • If you would like to send a message to a friend or loved one, send a text or voicemail to the patient experience team, who will pass on your message (in the form of a handwritten card).
  • Simply call or text 07525 968409, along with the name of the patient and their location (if known).
  • Or send your text and/or a photo by email to: including the relatives’ name, patient name, date of birth, and ward name (if known).

Appointments and drop-ins attending an outpatient appointment:

For outpatient appointments, you should attend alone as there is limited space due to social distancing.

If the nature of your appointment means you do need someone to be with you, contact the number on your appointment letter.

Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible.

Attending the emergency department (A&E) and minor injuries units:

Patients attending the emergency department (A&E) at Musgrove Park Hospital or one of the seven minor injuries units in Somerset should enter the buildings alone where possible.

Children can be accompanied by one adult.

If there are exceptional circumstances, speak to the nurse in charge to discuss these.

Virtual appointments

We will continue to run some clinics/appointments as virtual appointments to reduce the number of people needing to attend our sites – we have also received feedback that these have been well received and in many cases are much more convenient for our patients.

We know this is a challenging time and all of us at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust thank you for playing your part in keeping our patients, colleagues and community safe.