Nurses urge caution on 24 hour visiting trial

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) is interested in the outcomes of a trial where visiting hours have been expanded at Balmain Hospital but believe it could be too soon to roll out across other hospitals.

The Sydney Local Health District proposed trial to lift visiting hour restrictions at Canterbury, Concord and Royal Prince Alfred would see only preapproved visitors granted access afterhours.

It will require conversations between patients, their nurse or midwife and visitors who are requesting unrestricted visiting. Security staff will still play an important role in escorting out of hours visitors around hospitals.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the proposal has some merit as long as it continues to be limited to preapproved visitors who have a close connection with the patient in a non-clinical caring role.

“This should not be seen as open-slather to the public, but more opportunities to allow close family members and friends of patients to visit them in hospital and, if appropriate, visit outside normal visiting times.

“But after only a month trial of the lifted restrictions at Balmain Hospital, it is too early to draw conclusions on the impact on staff and patients.

“The benefits of this proposal to friends and families of patients is worthy of examination but we need to see the outcomes of the trial at Balmain Hospital. We are assured that it would be trialed at any other hospital before implementation as each hospital has different patient needs.

“We also want to know the security of staff and patients is not compromised as part of this plan.

“This trial needs to properly evaluated before any conclusions are drawn, it ultimately must be in the patients interest and not compromise the safety of patients or staff.”