Posted: Sun 29th May 2022

First minister content that “doctors and nurses on the ward” make visiting policy decisions rather than government

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, May 29th, 2022

Welsh Government appear comfortable that staff at the front line in hospitals decide on visiting policies, rather than making ministerial decisions.

First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked on Friday about hospital visiting rule relaxations, but with the prospect that some hospitals could still be cautious about Covid-19.

Mr Drakeford said: “Is it right that hospitals continue in some circumstances to restrict visits? Well, I think the answer to that has to be yes. And that is because it is a clinical decision.

“It’s not a decision made by Ministers, it’s a decision made by people on the spot knowing the calculation we have to make between the vulnerability of the people who they have on that ward and the risks that people come into the ward with Coronavirus

“With 1 in 50 People also in Wales with Coronavirus it means there’s 80,000 people in Wales who’ve got Coronavirus today.

“When people in hospitals make difficult decisions about restricting visiting, what they’re doing is trying to minimise the chance that one of those 80,000 people could walk onto the ward and end up infecting people for whom falling ill with Coronavirus would be an even more serious risk”

The First Minister was asked if hospitals were being ‘too cautious’ in the rules.

He said: “Well, Welsh Government has published renewed advice for hospitals and boards across Wales, both in terms of general visiting, but also specifically in the context of maternity care, which we know has been a particularly difficult issue throughout the pandemic.

“Our advice urges health boards to do as much as they can to allow visiting to take place in as normal away as possible. But in the end, those decisions can only be made by doctors and nurses who are running those wards on the spot.

“The population of patients on the ward changes every day, in this whole journey out of the legal restrictions, we have received concerns from those people whose underlying health conditions make them particularly vulnerable to the virus. People who are not well already are more likely to be in hospital, more likely to be vulnerable to the virus.

“Those are the considerations that people on the spot in hospital wards are picking up.

“Nobody is preventing visitors because they don’t like to see visitors  – it is about making that difficult calculation about the risks that visiting poses and the vulnerability of the people that they are looking after.”

Again the First Minister was asked on the topic, with it noted ‘hospitals are always going to urge on the side of caution’ and was asked if Welsh Government would ‘step in’.

The First Minister replied: “What I want to see is a consistency of decision making in different parts of Wales.

“I don’t want to see some places where there is a level of adversity to risk that in another hospital in another part of Wales would not be regarded in that way.

“In the end, if you’re asking me what risk would I rather run, would I rather the risk to the health of a vulnerable person caused by Coronavirus?

“100 people have died from Coronavirus in Wales in the month of May. This is still not a trivial illness. If a team of doctors and nurses on the ward come to the conclusion that the risks to those patients are such that visiting has to be restricted I would rather they made that decision.

“You can come and visit on another day.

“You won’t be there if you’ve been exposed to Coronavirus and you don’t survive that experience.”


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