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Hospital visitors banned in recovery areas but still welcome on wards

PUBLISHED: 18:56 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 July 2010

Hospitals in Norfolk have moved to reassure patients they will still be able to have visitors on wards after operations.

But relatives now are being discouraged from visiting recovery units, where patients are looked after as they come round from anaesthetic or recover from sedation.

Hospitals in Norfolk have moved to reassure patients they will still be able to have visitors on wards after operations.

But relatives now are being discouraged from visiting recovery units, where patients are looked after as they come round from anaesthetic or recover from sedation.

It is because of new NHS guidance on privacy and dignity, which says that even day surgery patients should not usually be in mixed-sex accommodation "if the patient is in a hospital gown, and may have difficulty preserving their own modesty due to sedation or anaesthesia".

Mixed-sex wards have already been ruled out by previous guidance, though some hospitals are still in the process of meeting the new rules.

June Blythe, from Taverham, near Norwich, was taken aback when she was told she had to stay in the waiting area of Cromer Hospital when her husband John was having a day procedure in the Davison Unit. She said: "We were given no prior warning of this and it came as an immense shock."

Hospital spokesman Andrew Stronach said the new rules had been brought in two weeks ago at Cromer Hospital and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, so that people do not have to see other patient's relatives of the opposite sex while they are semi-conscious or dressed in a hospital gown.

He said: "If there is a very good reason why a relative needs to be there, for example if someone is particularly distressed, we would take that into account."

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn does not allow friends and family in recovery areas, but they can be on wards, including the day surgery ward area. Spokesman Richard Humphries said: "We have to balance our legal obligations and NHS guidelines with the views of our patients, and it is not always an easy task to find a compromise."

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston allows relatives in the recovery area "for patients who particularly request or need this", and for children. Director of nursing Nick Coveney said: "On occasion, this may not be possible if it impacts on other patients, but each request would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis."

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