A GP commissioning leader has publicly criticised hospital visiting rules at local hospitals, after hearing that a stroke patient was denied seeing family or friends for six weeks.
Philip Stevens, a locality chair at Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), described the situation reported to him by one of his patients as “heartbreaking”, and has challenged visiting policies at Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital trusts.
During a CCG governing body meeting, Dr Stevens called for explanation from the county’s director of public health, Lucy Wightman, who said trusts could choose their own rules.
Dr Stevens, who is also a GP at Brackley Medical Centre, argued that visitors were permitted in neighbouring counties, where he claimed there were similar covid case rates to Northamptonshire, which remains in tier 1 restrictions under the government’s framework.
He said: “I’ve been dealing this week with a family who, the wife’s husband, has been in Northampton General for six weeks now and has had no visitors at all during that time. He’s had a profound stroke and when he comes home he’ll need considerable community support which ordinarily the family would have been trained in but discharge is planned without any of that training.”
Mr Stevens said in an “adjacent county” hospital policy was that each patient would have ”one hour, one visitor each day” with 30-minutes in between visiting slots. While not named, trusts in neighbouring Cambridge and Lincolnshire both have policies that permit pre-booked visitors.
He added: “When I heard this story it seemed heartbreaking to me for this woman and her husband and I just wonder whether that this is a situation we should be challenging, particularly since it appears that the public health advice in an adjacent county may be different to that which is being offered within Northamptonshire.”
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Source: HSJ, 27 October 2020