Criticism continues to mount over Auckland Hospital visitor rules

Source: 1News

Criticism continues to mount over visitor rules at Auckland Hospital after the Ministry of Health issued its new visitor guidelines on Thursday.

The rules have cut visitor numbers in half, with patients now allowed just one daily visitor per day.

The Resident Doctors’ Association says the new policy may not result in a further tightening of rules at the country’s largest hospital, leaving staff and patients at risk.

“We believe we can eliminate that risk by excluding visitors except on compassionate or such grounds,” Deborah Powell of the Resident Doctors' Association said.

“The largest hospital, in an area where there is still Covid in the community, still has one of the most relaxed visiting policies in the whole country,” the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s Kate Weston added.

Some patients are also puzzled by the visitor numbers.

It comes after a man on Thursday told 1News he had lodged a formal complaint with the hospital after a patient on his ward had sex with a visitor in the bed next to his.

“Where did that person come from? What screening had they had? I was in a bed one-and-a-half metres away,” Kevin, whose last name 1News chose not to reveal, said.

He was also concerned around other behaviour, such as the use of patient toilets and TV lounges which were meant to be closed.

“Visitors are using our facilities in the ward which is prohibited but it happens,” he said.

The Doctors’ Union is now calling on Auckland Hospital to fall in line.

“In all our previous lockdowns, no visitors were allowed in except on compassionate grounds and in Waitematā and Counties Manukau, they continue to have a restricted policy,” Powell said.

It’s concerned Auckland will not comply due to the flexibility in the new guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.

“It allows for local determination and variation so we may well still have the problem with Auckland deciding to do something different,” Powell said.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the “key principle” is that the DHBs and staff “can ensure the safety of all at the facility” when the guidelines are implemented.

The Auckland DHB is not talking publicly, but says visitor numbers are dropping in light of the new restrictions.

Official talks on the new guidelines will take place next week.