Visiting patients at the Royal Free London

Updated: 27 October 2021

Visiting at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

From 6 September 2021 new visiting guidelines were introduced at the Royal Free London. Below are the details of visiting that we will facilitate at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. Visiting guidelines for Chase Farm Hospital, where visiting is not currently facilitated, will be provided at a later date.

Pre-booked visiting

For adult in-patients (except for those who are on a ward where covid patients are being cared for, for those on a surgical ward and for those who are immune-supressed) pre-booked visiting can be facilitated. The visit will be limited to one hour for one visitor per day (who remains the visitor permitted for that patient for the duration of their admission); a patient cannot have different visitors on different days of the week.

The process you will need to follow for visiting a patient:

  • Speak to the ward staff to book a suitable time slot for visiting. You can contact the ward via our switchboard - the details are here
  • On the day of the visit, complete a lateral flow test at home before attending the hospital and report the result on the government’s website. If the result is negative and you are not a contact of someone who is covid positive you can proceed with the visit. If the test is positive you must not attend the hospital and should follow the government guidance.
  • Please bring evidence of the negative lateral flow test with you to the hospital (either a print-out or on your mobile phone).
  • When you arrive at the front entrance, inform the security team of your name and the name of the patient you are visiting. 
  • Wear a face mask before entering the hospital
  • Wash hands/apply hand gel as you enter the hospital
  • Complete the visitor contract and the latest screening questionnaire which you will receive at the ward and show the staff member your negative lateral flow test

  • Maintain social distancing from staff and patients (except the patient you are visiting)
  • Please discuss future visits with the ward staff
  • Wash/gel hands as you leave the ward.

Compassionate visiting

Compassionate visiting for adult in-patients means that visiting of one family member for at least one hour can occur daily if the patient meets the following criteria:       

  • They are dying (last days and hours of life)
  • They have a mental health issue, such as dementia, a learning disability or autism
  • Where the attendance of a key contact will benefit a patient's clinical condition or wellbeing  (ward staff will get in touch if a visit will be beneficial)
  • Children and young people (See below)
  • Maternity (see below)

In-patients – Enhanced carer visiting

Enhanced carer visiting is offered for people who pre this hospital admission where the main carer for a patient with dementia, a learning disability, autism or at end of life. The visit can be for longer than an hour and will be agreed by the nurse in charge, and will be to ensure the patient and carer can have their needs met.


A partner / companion may attend all early pregnancy unit, obstetric ultrasound and antenatal clinical appointments. A nominated partner may attend for induction of labour and latent phase of labour, extended throughout the 24 hour period during the daytime and overnight. A doula can be permitted in the labour room in place of the partner / companion. Both antenatal and post natal women on the ward can have a visit from their partner either between 9am-1pm or 2pm-6pm.  On the ward the woman will be advised at the time which slot is available to them and their partner.

Children and young people

We encourage the involvement of parents/carers in all aspects of their child's care. With the restrictions on space and the need to maintain social distancing we ask that only one parent/carer stays with their child in both the emergency department (ED) and the ward. Where parents/carers need to swap over to give the resident parent a break we ask that you do this outside of ED or the ward area. Your co-operation is much appreciated.  Siblings are not currently permitted to visit.

Emergency department

We are currently accommodating our patients’ needs for a companion as much as possible but we need to do this as safely as possible for everybody and also take account of over-crowding in the department.  Those attending with minor injury or illness will be expected to do so alone.  However, one close family contact is permitted to accompany a patient to support them with complex/difficult decision making if: 

  • The patient is a child
  • The patient has dementia
  • The patient has a learning disability
  • The patient lives with mental ill health
  • The patient attends with major injury or illness

Neuro-rehab centre at Edgware Hospital

In the long stay neuro-rehabilitation center the patient can have two named visiting contacts.  The two named contacts must be part of the same household or social bubble and only one visitor can visit per day in the garden at an agreed timeslot with the ward sister or nurse in charge.

Out-patient departments

If you are visiting one of our hospitals or clinics for an appointment, only bring someone to accompany you if absolutely necessary.  You will need to wear a face mask when visiting the hospital

If you or someone you live with has COVID-19 (coronavirus) or any symptoms of it, you cannot visit the ward. If you are not sure, please speak to a member of staff. Symptom information and advice on what to do next is available

Chaplains and faith/religious leaders

One of the trust’s chaplains, as a member of staff, can visit a patient on a ward.  If there is a request for a patient’s own recognised religious or faith leader to attend as a second visitor, this can be facilitated providing they comply with the above process (lateral flow test, PPE, limit their visit to 1 hour).  The religious or faith leader attending should also let our chaplaincy team know they will be attending. They can do this by calling 020 7830 2742.

General advice for patients and visitors

Please remember that if you, or someone you live in the same house as, experiences coronavirus symptoms – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature and/or loss of smell or taste – please do not visit the hospital.  Self-isolate and visit NHS 111 online for further advice.

All patients and visitors to our hospitals will need to wear a face mask and are asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water as soon as they enter the hospital and when they leave. Frequent handwashing is effective at reducing the spread of infection.

Thank you for your co-operation and help in respecting these changes.