Hospital considers scrapping visiting hours to help ease parking pressures - giving families more time to spend with loved ones

Families could get to spend more time with sick relatives under plans being considered by hospital chiefs.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 4:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 10:03 am

Bosses at the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND) have revealed they are looking into scrapping restrictions on visiting hours in an attempt to ease parking pressures at the congested site.

The change was raised as part of a proposed overhaul of stroke care, which could see rehab services moved to UHND from Bishop Auckland Hospital (BAH).

“We would be offering open visiting, which isn’t an option at this time,” said Lisa Cole, deputy associate director of operations at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT), which runs the hospital.

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“We need to be mindful that these patients already go to Durham and we want them to get to their own homes as soon as possible, rather than having multiple handovers.

“Parking is an issue, but if we can do what we can to relieve pressures we would expect that to ease.”

Cole was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Joint Health Scrutiny Panel for County Durham and Darlington, which has been set up to look at the potential impact of proposed changes to stroke services and Bishop Auckland Hospital.

Public consultation on the planned reforms, which NHS chiefs say will reduce the length of hospital stays, was paused for December’s general election but is due to restart later this month.

But the plans have prompted concerns about the impact it could have on patients and families who do not live close to Durham City or who struggle to access public transport.

“BAH fills the need for people in the southern part of the county, UHND fills the need for people in the north of the county,” said Barnard Castle councillor Ted Henderson

“UHND would be an ideal place for a one stop shop but it doesn’t have the size, it’s too small to take on the whole lot and the parking is atrocious.

“We can go to BAH and get parked with no problems, people who have had a stroke need their families around them and we cannot expect people to drive an hour and a half there and an hour and a half back.”

Cole added: “Stroke rehab is a specialist service and it’s a single site for the whole of County Durham and Darlington, so it will always be inconvenient for some part of the patch, that’s why this proposal is aiming to make community services more robust.”