Changes to hospital visiting hours divides opinion

A new trial at four Sydney hospitals will see visiting hours abolished, with patients able to see family and friends around the clock.

Soon, family and friends could be able to see loved ones at any time of the day or night, with Balmain Hospital scratching regulated visiting hours and Canterbury, Concord and RPA hospitals to follow suit.

While the change is welcomed by many, the nurses union will be watching closely to make sure it doesn’t add to their already heavy workload.

For Richard and his father, 24/7 visiting hours are extremely beneficial. Source: 7News

“It’s really about how we make sure that those people who are most important to our patients are actively involved in their care,” NSW Health’s Dr Teresa Anderson said.

The 24/7 visiting hours trial will eventually be rolled out statewide. Visitors will be allowed to see friends and family as long as the patient consents and it doesn’t interrupt other roommates’ rest.

There are concerns that the change could lump more work on nurses.  Already run off their feet tending to patients’ care, soon they’ll be coordinating visitors around the clock as well.

But in the instance of recent stroke sufferer Marcelino DeMarco, who can only speak Spanish, the change is beneficial.

Families can visit at any time as long as they don’t disrupt other patients. Source: 7News

“One that’s on hand all the time as a family member and understands his medical history and background.. it’s a lot more helpful,” his son Richard said.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s Brett Holmes said they are monitoring the new regime very closely.

“We will be looking to the feedback from our members at Balmain Hospital around what impact upon their work this will have,” he said.

Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord isn’t convinced, saying the move could result in staff numbers being slashed.

I actually fear that this could be a back door approach to reducing staff – getting family members to bathe and feed patients,” he said.