VISITORS have been banned from seeing their friends and relatives at hospitals around the New Forest to protect patients from the coronavirus.
Visits were suspended with immediate effect today (Wednesday) by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust at all its sites, which include Lymington hospital and at Hythe and Fordingbridge which have some community beds.
The trust also runs mental health units at Tatchbury Mount in Calmore, Totton.
The only exception was for people receiving end of life care in which case the trust asked that visitors contacted the ward or department in advance.
It said in a statement: “We understand this may be upsetting and are sorry for any distress this may cause. However, your health, safety and wellbeing, that of our patients, service users, communities and staff remains our absolute priority.
“We encourage people to find other ways to keep in touch, like phone and video calls. We are working quickly to ensure that service users in our mental health sites have access to these forms of communication as soon as possible.”
It added: “Thank you for your continued support and understanding at this challenging time. We are working on ways to support you to keep in touch with loved ones who are inpatients and will keep you updated.”
The New Forest Birth Centre in Ashurst is run by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. It has not imposed a ban at its hospitals but said it preferred visitors not to attend.
The move by Southern Health follows Hampshire County Council on Tuesday stopping visits to its care homes.
Those include Cranleigh Paddock dementia home in Lyndhurst, Bickerley Green nursing and residential home in Ringwood, and Forest Court nursing home in Calmore.
The trust added: “Everyone should follow the expert national guidance on social distancing and self-isolation and stay at home wherever possible, to help limit the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and our NHS.”