Our hospitals are safe places for staff and patients, and we are adapting the way they work to keep them safe so we can treat more people over the coming months.
Recent media coverage has highlighted concern among some relatives of patients about visiting restrictions imposed because of Covid-19. The easing of lockdown restrictions in society generally, with pubs, restaurants and shops reopening, has fostered a view that hospitals should be more accessible too.
However, unlike pubs, shops and restaurants, our hospitals are here to care for very sick people. Some of them are suffering from Covid-19 but many other vulnerable people with complex needs are admitted for essential treatment.
Our staff are fully aware of the need for robust infection prevention and control measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. They have to balance the safety and wellbeing of all their patients against the understandable desire of families and friends to visit individuals and help their recovery.
Dr Alistair Chesser, our Chief Medical Officer, said: "We know how important it is for people in hospital to be able to see and talk to their loved ones, and vice versa. So the decision to restrict visitors is not one made lightly.
"But our first duty is to the patients we serve, and to maintain their safety at all times we need to control visiting. We are sorry for any distress this may cause."
Even in normal times, we have rules on visiting, in order to protect the health and respect the privacy of other patients who might be affected by bedside gatherings.
As we are in a pandemic, further considerations apply - such as the need for everyone to maintain social distancing and wear face masks in public areas, and for any visitor to be escorted through the building and comply with track and trace arrangements.
So we are only allowing visitors in exceptional circumstances. Each case is assessed on its merits, but in general we would not allow more than one visitor per patient at a time, and we may limit the length of time they spend at the bedside. We might also restrict visiting to a certain number of days of the week.
We understand that having a family member in hospital is distressing, and we work closely with relatives and friends to ease their concerns and find alternative ways of keeping in touch.
We seek to be as flexible as possible. In return, we ask members of the public to appreciate that we have a duty to every other patient in the ward, as well as to their relative.