Patients, staff and visitors will still be required to wear face coverings in all areas of University Hospital Southampton, unless they are exempt, despite the end of restrictions from Monday.
For the time being, the numbers of visitors to UHS will also remain restricted – except in defined and exceptional circumstances – but this policy will continue to be continually reviewed and our guidance updated as the local situation changes.
The measures, in line with guidance from Public Health England and rules being enforced by our healthcare partners across the county, are needed as community cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant continue to rise sharply in the wider Southampton area.
In the past seven days there were 830 new cases recorded in the city, an increase of 282 in the past week.
The rising number of cases combined with the city having a relatively low vaccine uptake – in part due to a younger population – presents a clear and present danger that could not only see hospital admissions rise but also compromise hospital services.
UHS is currently admitting patients with Covid-19 who are predominantly younger adults who have not yet been fully vaccinated. While their length of stay is not as long as we have seen previously and their treatment is generally less intensive, those beds are quickly being filled by new COVID patients.
This presents a challenge as the opportunity for hospital transmission becomes more acute.
Gail Byrne, chief nursing officer at University Hospital Southampton, said: “We are a hospital providing care to vulnerable and immunocompromised patients which is why our COVID ZERO campaign to stop transmission to patients and protect our workforce remains paramount.
“This week has seen a further rise in the number of positive cases within the community and we must do all we can to ensure our staff are able to continue to carry out the vital work of caring for the sickest among us.
“Despite the wider easing of restrictions from Monday (July 19) there is still a vital need for protective measures to remain in place in our hospital so we can continue to recover our vital services and tackle the backlog of increased waiting lists, that have been a tragic outcome of the pandemic.”
Gail added: “We are all in this together and have come a long way – but we are far from out of the woods yet. It is the continued actions of each and every one of us that collectively will make the difference.”
Posted on Thursday 15 July 2021