Visiting patients at the Royal Free London

Updated: 2 January 2021

Visiting at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust


Due to the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, we have taken the decision to restrict visiting in our hospitals from Monday 3 January.

As such, pre-booked visiting will no longer be available for adult in-patients at the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital.

Thank you for your understanding on this matter.

Visiting patients will be allowed in the following circumstances:

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, 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

Neurological rehabilitation centre at Edgware Community Hospital

The NRC in-patient unit and outpatient service are offering compassionate visiting as detailed above. Pre-booked visiting is not currently available. Please discuss compassionate visiting requests  with the ward manager, key worker or therapist in out-patients. 

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.

Due to the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, you will not be able to bring someone with you if you are attending an out-patient appointment in our hospitals.

However, there are no changes to the visiting guidelines for patients who are children and for women receiving maternity care, including partners joining pregnant women for scans.

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