Visiting patients at the Royal Free London

Updated: 21 November 2022

Visiting at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Whilst the government has removed COVID-19 restrictions; infection control policies remain in place with the trust because many of our patients are elderly or immune-compromised. This includes wearing a face covering while you are inside our buildings and adhering to hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines. Thank you for your understanding and keeping patients, visitors and staff safe from infection. 

The following types of visiting are now being offered for patients in our hospitals.

Visiting

At the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, we understand the important role visitors play in supporting patients in their recovery. We want all visitors to feel welcome, valued and able to ask questions. Our visitors' charter sets out what you can expect from us and what we will expect from you in return, including the safety measures that are still in place regarding visiting. 

For adult in-patients at Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital standard visiting times are between 2pm – 8pm every day.  However, some wards’ opening times may vary and some wards still have restrictions on visiting. Please see visiting table for full details of ward opening times. Restrictions will also apply if the patient has COVID-19, in which case you must telephone the ward first to see if a visit is possible. Patients can have multiple visits each day, but no more than two visitors should be at the bedside at any one time.

Visitors are encouraged to take a lateral flow test before attending hospital. Stay at home if you are suffering from cold/flu symptoms or vomiting and/or diarrhoea, and do not visit until you have been symptom free for at least two days.

Compassionate visiting

Compassionate visiting for adult inpatients means that visiting can occur outside of a ward’s normal visiting hours or in times of restricted or suspended visiting, if the patient meets any of 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)

Intensive care unit

For patients in Barnet Hospital's intensive care unit with COVID-19, please speak to the nursing team to arrange a visit. For patients on ITU North, call 020 8216 5298 and for ITU South, call 020 8216 4120. Patients who do not have COVID-19 can receive visits between 11.30am-7.30pm as detailed above.

For patients in the Royal Free Hospital's intensive care unit in respiratory isolation, such as suffering with COVID-19 or flu, please speak to the nursing team (020 7794 0500 extension 24545 available Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm) to arrange a visit. Patients not in respiratory isolation can receive visits between 12pm-8pm as detailed above.

Maternity

  • One partner or companion can attend all antenatal clinic appointments and pregnancy scans.
  • One partner or companion can attend the Maternity Day Unit (Barnet) and Day Assessment Unit (Royal Free) and Triage units at both sites.
  • Two birth partners can support women on the labour wards and in the birth centres.
  • One partner or companion can visit throughout a 24-hour period on Victoria ward and 5 South (antenatal / postnatal wards)
  • One additional partner or companion is permitted on Victoria ward and 5 South (antenatal / postnatal wards) between 2pm-8pm. The second visitor can be a sibling.

Children and young people

We encourage the involvement of parents/carers in all aspects of their child's care. On our children’s wards:

  • Two family members can visit from 8am-8pm.
  • One adult is allowed to stay overnight.
  • Siblings can 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. We also need to take account of overcrowding in the department. 

  • Adults are allowed one accompanying visitor in all areas.
  • Visitors may be expected to wait in the relatives’ rooms/waiting areas at times when patients are in the resuscitation room, ambulance assessment area or undergoing scanning/procedures.
  • At the Royal Free Hospital, children may be accompanied by one or both parents/carers. Please note that parents/carers are expected to take siblings out of the department where more than one adult is present.
  • Due to the space constraints in the waiting room at Barnet Hospital, it is requested that children are only accompanied by one parent/carer, unless at the discretion of staff.
  • At times when capacity is full, to avoid overcrowding in waiting rooms, visitors will be asked to wait outside.
  • Visiting within the department is at the discretion of staff.

Neurological rehabilitation centre at Edgware Community Hospital

The NRC in-patient unit is offering visiting as detailed above, from 1:30pm-7:30pm. Please discuss compassionate visiting requests with the ward manager, key worker or therapist.

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, this can be facilitated providing they comply with the visitors’ charter.  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.

Outpatients

You may bring someone with you if you are attending an out-patient appointment in our hospitals. Please do not arrive more than 10 minutes prior to your appointment time to minimise overcrowding in our waiting areas.

General advice for patients and visitors

Stay at home if you are suffering from cold/flu symptoms or vomiting and/or diarrhoea, and do not visit until you have been symptom free for at least two days.

All patients and visitors to our hospitals will need to wear a face mask (these are available at entrances) and are asked to use hand gel as soon as they arrive at the hospital, when entering and leaving ward areas and when they leave.

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