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Visiting Arrangements

NHSCT Visiting Arrangements  

Updated visiting guidance ‘Enabling Safer Visiting’ issued by DOH, NI for implementation with effect of 31 October 2022 has been adopted in NHSCT. 

The Infection Control Outbreak Control Team may on occasions recommend that routine visiting arrangements be suspended; staff will inform patients and their visitors should this occur.  

We ask that: 

  • Patients inform nursing staff of their preferred visiting arrangements.  
  • Visitors do not visit, if symptomatic even if they test negative for COVID-19. 
  • Visitors adhere to good Infection Prevention and Control practice by wearing Face coverings, and any other necessary PPE, as directed following a risk assessment 
  • Visitors wash hands or use the hand sanitiser before and after visiting 
  •  Visitors make themselves aware of the risks involved in visiting their loved one, and work with the ward/care setting 
  • Visitors  stay with the person they are visiting throughout the visit, minimising movement around the hospital/care home and maintaining social distancing from other patients/residents and staff to reduce risks of infection spread. 
  • Babies and Children do not routinely visit. Exceptions should be discussed with the nurse in charge.  

Please see arrangements for specific areas 

Adult Wards

Two people only may attend for each visiting time. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate.  

Times: 2.30pm – 4.00pm / 7.30pm – 9.00pm 

Maternity Wards 

Two people only may attend for each visiting time (except 10:30 – 11:30 am). In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate. 

Times: 10.30am – 11.30am (partners only)/  3.30pm – 4.30pm/ 6.30pm – 8.30pm 

Childrens’ Wards 

Times: Parents and carers* – any time

 * Those undertaking parenting responsibilities in absence of those with parental responsibility.

Neo-natal Unit 

Times: Parents and carers* – any time

* Those undertaking parenting responsibilities in absence of those with parental responsibility.

Intensive Care Units  

Visiting arrangements should be discussed with Nurse-in-Charge. 

Times: 2.30pm – 5.00pm/ 7:00pm – 9:00pm 

Mental Health Inpatient Wards 

Two people only may attend for each visiting time. In the event of overcrowding of multiple occupancy areas, visitors may be asked to rotate. 

Times: 2:00pm – 8:00pm 

Emergency Departments 

Emergency Departments continue to experience severe congestion at times due to the number of patients attending and those awaiting beds in the hospital. We will prioritise the presence of a visitor or carer to accompany those with additional needs, other visitors may be asked to limit time in the department so we can ensure adequate distancing and space to treat patients.

Cancer and Renal Unit

Patients can be accompanied to an appointment. Visiting arrangements as above (adult wards).


Patients can be accompanied to an appointment if they wish.

Care Home Visiting

From August 2022 and the publication of guidance Visiting with Care – The New Normal , restrictions have been lifted for visiting in care homes.
There may be occasion if the home is in outbreak that time – that limited restrictions will be reintroduced, following a dynamic risk assessment but there will be local communication with residents and their families if this occurs. Care Partners and end of life visiting will be facilitated during an outbreak.
While the restrictions on visiting have now largely been removed, it is essential that families/friends intending to visit should continue to help ensure their loved ones remain safe by:

  • Staying at home, if symptomatic
  • Adhering to good Infection Prevention and Control practice
  • Face coverings – and any other necessary PPE, should be worn as appropriate
  • Engaging with the care home – you are partners in care and should work together for the good of your loved one
  • Respect for other residents and staff in the care home and protecting their health.

It is crucially important, therefore, that visitors make themselves aware of the risks involved in the visiting of their loved one, and work together with the care home and the statutory agencies to ensure that they can safely engage in meaningful visiting while ensuring that the risk to their loved one and others in the care home is minimised as far as possible.

  • We would also ask that you notify the care home if you:
    experience symptoms of COVID-19 including a high  temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss or change to sense of smell and/or taste following a visit to the home
    test positive for COVID 19 following a visit to the home
  •  are notified that you are a ‘close contact’ of anyone suspected of, or confirmed as, having COVID-19 following a visit to the home
  • become generally unwell following a visit to the home

Visiting in Care Settings in Northern Ireland | Department of Health (

Virtual Visiting 

The Trust will continue to support virtual visiting and has produced a helpful guide to assist you with virtual visits. 


COVID-19 Surge plans

The Department of Health released further details of surge plans on Friday 3 April.  These focus on a reconfiguration of paediatric and maternity services.

The Northern Trust has, over recent weeks, been engaged both regionally and locally as part of a HSC system effort in planning for an anticipated surge in patients becoming ill with COVID-19 infection across Northern Ireland. It is recognised from worldwide and UK national data that children are on average relatively mildly affected by COVID infection and will therefore require only a small proportion of the overall population demand for hospital treatment; conversely the need for adult hospital beds is likely to be significantly higher than the supply currently available.

As a result a region-wide plan has been developed to implement a temporary reconfiguration of inpatient paediatric and maternity services in response to COVID-19 surge. This plan has been regionally agreed and aims to consolidate inpatient services for women and children in the Northern Trust.  Our plan centres on pooling staffing to ensure continued provision of safe, high quality care across both maternity and paediatric services.

As part of this regional plan within the Northern Trust, the inpatient paediatric ward at Causeway Hospital will temporarily close to admissions with effect from Thursday 9 April 2020. Children requiring a hospital stay will be managed in the Children’s Ward of Antrim Area Hospital. Children’s short stay assessments will still take place in Causeway Hospital Monday to Friday 9am -10pm and Saturday and Sunday 12-6pm.

Due to the changes outlined in paediatric cover in Causeway Hospital, we have taken a decision to temporarily change the maternity services offered on the Causeway Hospital site.  As an interim measure all inpatient maternity services will now be provided at Antrim Area Hospital.  This includes any unscheduled attendances for pregnancy concerns, for labour and birth (this includes caesarean sections) and postnatal stay.  The Causeway Maternity Unit will continue to provide outpatient antenatal care Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Community midwifery across the Trust continues in the antenatal and postnatal period.

Staff will be redeployed as necessary within the Trust to support reconfigured services.

Inpatient paediatric wards in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry and the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen will also close in what is step one of the five-step regional plan. The temporary reconfiguration will free up to 130 bed spaces during extreme surge in acute hospitals across the region. Around 50 adult bed spaces could be made available in the coming days when step one is implemented, approximately 13 of which would be in Causeway Hospital.

There may subsequently be further consolidation of paediatric inpatient services onto fewer sites in a step-wise fashion, depending on daily review of hospital demand across the region and ongoing staff availability (for further details see the DOH press release ‘Plans in Place to Protect Children’s and Maternity Services’, dated 03 April 2020).

Please note that as of Thursday 9 April, Paediatric support will only be available in Causeway Hospital from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 12 Noon – 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  There will be no on-site paediatricians outside of these times so anyone with concerns should contact GP Out of Hours or attend the Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital.


Earlier surge plans

Surge Plans Friday 27 March 2020

How can I protect myself?

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading and that includes social distancing.

Social distancing will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus by reducing the social interaction between people.

You should:
•Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus – these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
•avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
•work from home, where possible – your employer should support you to do this.
•avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
•avoid gatherings with friends and family – keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
•use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as possible.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
•are over 70;
•have an underlying health condition;
•are pregnant.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.


Self-distancing for vulnerable groups

The Government has advised that anyone who is at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

For more information see COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people


Preventing the Spread of infection

Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds

Use hand sanitizer where washing facilities are not available

Use a tissue after you cough or sneeze; cover your mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use and wash your hands – Catch It, Bin It, Kill It

Sneeze into your elbow if you do not have a tissue

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

Keep your social distance from others

Watch this video about proper hand washing technique from the Public Health Agency

British Sign Language version

Irish Sign Language version

I think I have coronavirus

The latest advice for COVID-19 / Coronavirus was issued on Monday 16 March by the Public Health Agency.   If you have either:

  • a high temperature (fever) – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back or a thermometer reads 37.8 degrees C or higher
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve recently started coughing repeatedly

Stay at home for 7 days.  After seven days you can return to normal activities as long as you do not have a high temperature (fever);

After 7 days:

  • if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to stay at home
  • if you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal
  • You do not need to stay at home if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

  • If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.
  • If you get symptoms, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re at home for longer than 14 days.
  • If you do not get symptoms, you can stop staying at home after 14 days.

You may find this graphic helpful in explaining isolation for family members.

Travel and contact history are no longer part of the case definition and people are advised not to go to their GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You can ring NHS 111 for information or advice and they will help you decide if you need to contact your GP.

Calling your GP is only necessary if you have:

  • An existing health condition
  • problems with your immune system
  • very serious symptoms

More information and guidance about staying at home has been made available.

If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the operator of your symptoms.

Trust services affected

***Please note staff may call from a withheld number, if you think it could be us please pick up***

As health and social care divert resources to care for Coronavirus patients, health service activity across Northern Ireland will be significantly curtailed.

Antrim Area Hospital: Relocation of Outpatients 4
Community and voluntary support (Community Navigators)
Critical Care Services
Day Care Centre closures
Dementia Care
Domiciliary Care
Health Visiting Services
Inpatient Paediatric Services
Learning Disability Day and Short Break Services
Maternity Services
Northern Adult Autism Advice Service
Podiatry Service – Emergency Diabetes Foot Care
Pregnancy Helplines and Information
Screening Programmes: Temporary Pause
The Rowan (Regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre)

For more details regarding all our services, please refer to our A-Z Guide to services.

Cancellation of elective procedures and clinics

This will be kept under review but has involved the cancellation of some non-urgent elective procedures.  Anyone impacted has been contacted directly.  If you have not been contacted please attend your appointment as normal.

Outpatient Appointments

Please remember the hospital visiting policy when attending Outpatient Appointments and, if it is possible, please only attend by yourself (in the case of adults).

Visiting Restrictions

Visiting Restrictions, Exceptions, Patient Property drop-off/Pick-up

The Rowan launch their first Annual Report

The Rowan, Regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for Northern Ireland has recently launched its first Annual Report.

The Rowan is a specialist regional facility managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT), and jointly funded by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

520 individuals were referred into the Rowan in this first year, with a further 78 individuals seeking information and / or signposting onwards.

The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year to all victims of sexual violence, irrespective of age or gender. The state of the art building is a specialist regional centre for victims of sexual violence that offers support, a range of medical and forensic services and, if necessary, referral on to other specialist services with whom Rowan staff work closely with.

Since opening, referrals to The Rowan were initially made by the police service only. However, from September 2013 victims, or other interested parties, can contact The Rowan directly on the new free phone helpline number. In these cases, Rowan staff can assist victims, if they choose, to report matters to the police service. For those who are undecided, forensic samples may be stored for up to seven years.

£3.5 million investment for Antrim Area hospital

The Northern Trust is delighted to announce the Department of Health has recently confirmed funding for a second MRI scanner for Antrim Area Hospital, following approval for the full business care being granted by the Northern Trust Board in May. The contractor has been appointed and is on site, and the new scanner will be fully commissioned and operational by July 2018.

In 2016 a new replacement scanner was installed at Antrim Area Hospital. The provision of a second MRI scanner will provide an opportunity to enhance the range and volume of scans available.

A further investment of £300,000 will be spent on the refurbishment of the eight bed Critical Care Unit.  The process will take approximately six months, with staff and patients using the unit around November 2017.

Northern Trust Divisional Director, Margaret O’Hagan said “this is a significant investment which will enhance the MRI service to meet the demand and needs of our local Trust population and provide a modern fit for purpose Critical Care Unit”.

The scanner will be located in an extension to the current MRI unit. As with any major construction work there will be some enabling works required and there will be some changes to the access route to the MRI unit. The drop off car parking spaces for the Day Surgery Unit will be relocated for the duration of the project.

New Macmillan information pod opens at Causeway Hospital

Macmillan Cancer Support, in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, has opened a new cancer information pod in the main entrance to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine. The pod will be home to valuable information and support for anyone with questions about cancer.

Margaret O’Hagan, Director of Acute Services for the Northern Trust, said the new pod will have a positive impact on the local community: “We are delighted that, together with Macmillan Cancer Support, we are able to provide an information service for patients, relatives, carers and staff in the Northern Trust.
“The provision of a Macmillan Information Pod for Causeway Hospital is helping us to enhance the service we give to patients throughout the Trust, especially in the Causeway locality. Working with Macmillan, and others, we aim to ensure information and support is available to all.”

The pod provides a friendly environment for patients, carers and anyone affected by cancer to access good quality, comprehensive and appropriate information and support. A wide-range of Macmillan booklets are available, dealing with everything from managing symptoms to advice on benefits and financial support.
Paula Kealey, Senior Macmillan Development Manager, outlined the importance of this latest information facility: “I am delighted to see this Macmillan Information Pod up and running in such a prominent position in the entrance to Causeway Hospital. This information area demonstrates the Northern Trust’s commitment to ensuring that high quality information and support is available to anyone affected by cancer in the area.

“The pod will be managed by a Macmillan Information and Support Manager and a team of volunteers. We would especially like to thank these volunteers, who have signed up to help people with questions about cancer get the information they need – their support is invaluable and makes all the difference when it comes to a resource such as this.

“The pod is part of a much wider network of Macmillan information points across the Northern Health Trust area which underlines our commitment to ensuring that people right across Northern Ireland have access to the right information at the right time.”

Trained Macmillan volunteers will man the pod on Tuesdays from 9.30am – 12.30pm; Wednesdays 2.00pm – 4.00pm and Thursdays 9.30am – 12.30pm. No appointment is necessary and people can drop in during these times for a chat or to have their questions answered.

Resources such as this are vitally important to anyone who has been affected by cancer. When 61-year-old Evelyn McCullough from Portstewart was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, the information and support she received from Macmillan helped her through her diagnosis and subsequent treatment at Causeway.
Evelyn said: “The care and compassion I have received and continue to receive from Macmillan has been such a help to both myself and my family. I think this new information pod is a wonderful service which will be a real benefit to others. The staff here at Causeway are fantastic and this will be of valuable assistance to them.”

This is the latest information point to be opened by Macmillan in hospitals throughout Northern Ireland in a bid to ensure that no one here faces cancer alone.

Pictured are:
Bob McCann, Chairman NHSCT, Margaret O’Hagan, Director of Acute Services NHSCT, Evelyn McCullough and Paula Kealey, Senior Macmillan Development Manager.

Free skills training for children who are wheelchair users

The Northern Trust is asking children under the age of 18 years to come along to a Wheelchair Skills Training Workshop on Monday 31 July at 10am in the University of Ulster Sports Centre, Coleraine. ‘Have a Go Sports Days’ are also being held on Thursday 24 August in The Torrent Complex, Dungannon and on Friday 25 August in the University of Ulster Sports Centre, Coleraine, both from 11am to 3.30pm. These opportunities are open to children under 18 years old who use either a self-propelling or powered wheelchair.

The events, which are being run by the Regional Wheelchair Training Programme for Northern Ireland and are designed to increase a child’s confidence using their wheelchair, as well as having the opportunity to have fun and meet new friends. Parents/guardians, siblings and friends are also welcome to try out some of the skills and sports in extra wheelchairs made available on the day.

Lynda McCullough, Lead Occupational Therapist for Wheelchair Services in the Northern Trust said: “These events provide an excellent opportunity for children and families to maximise the full potential of their wheelchair and become more safe and independent. I would encourage all children who use a wheelchair to come along and have some fun while gaining some new stills.”

Those attending are required to register before the events and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To register contact 028 9504 8137 or email

Northern Trust – delivering sustainable transformation with your help!

The Northern Trust is encouraging patients and service users to become involved in helping to shape the future of the health services in their area. The progress to date of their five year Reform and Modernisation Programme (RAMP) was acknowledged at a recent Board meeting and the Trust is encouraging those who use our services to come forward and help shape the next stage in the transformative journey.

The Board heard how staff across the organisation had risen to the significant challenge of reorganising community services on a locality basis and been developing acute services across the Trust’s two acute sites at Antrim Area and Causeway Hospitals.

Trust Chairman, Bob McCann said, “The Trust is committed to a service model that has a strong emphasis on integrated, locality based services, delivered in partnership – a model that supports people to live independently, avoid hospitalisation and supports prompt discharge when a period in hospital is needed.

“We also committed to acute services delivered from two acute hospitals working collaboratively and networked with other acute services, to help strengthen what we provide locally. I am delighted to see real evidence of progress.

“14 fully integrated locality teams are now becoming well established around GP surgeries and there has been real progress in developing joined up services that keep people at home – for example, we have a 25% increase in the number of service users accessing homecare re-ablement each month. This type of intensive support helps get people back on their feet after an acute episode, rebuilding confidence and independence’

“Acute services have seen an increase in attendances and have managed to make a positive improvement in the four hour Emergency Department performance. It is a very positive step which is due to a lot of hard work, in the hospitals and in the community.

“The RAID – Rapid Assessment Intervention and Diagnosis mental health service saw 90% of patients within two hours of referral. This unique service, along with dementia companions working in Antrim Area Hospital, has significantly changed the way people with mental health issues, including dementia, are seen and supported particularly during a period in an acute hospital. The Trust will now introduce dementia companions to Causeway and our community hospitals.

“This first complete year of our RAMP programme shows real efforts have been made and improvements achieved for our patients. I would like to thank all of our staff who have made this happen. Much more work lies ahead and it is clear we have a tremendous group of staff who are committed to ongoing improvement. We also need the help and support of our service users and would encourage people to get involved and give their views.”

‘target=”_blank”>The Journey So Far’ document has been produced to outline our achievements and challenges to date in transforming services through RAMP.

If you would like more information on how you can get involved in any aspect of the service reform and modernisation programme please see the Involving you section or contact the Northern Trust Equality Unit on 028 2766 1377 or email