Written Answers. - Hospital Visiting Hours.

Nuala Fennell

Question:

291 Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Health if he intends to liberalise hospital visiting hours in accordance with proposals in a recent edition of a medical journal (details supplied).

Visiting hours in hospitals are primarily a matter for the hospital authorities concerned. I consider that visiting should not be regarded by the hospital staff as an intrusion into the working regime of the hospital but as a very important link for the patient with his or her close relatives or friends, many of whom may be very anxious about the patient's well being. I am, therefore in favour of a liberal approach to visiting hours. However the attendance of too many visitors may upset or tire a seriously ill patient or interfere with their treatment. Therefore, I accept the need to exercise some control over visiting times. I agree that there should be the same visiting times for public and private patients.

I am conscious that there is scope for improvement in making hospitals more sensitive to the needs of patients and relatives in a number of areas, including visiting times, and my Department is at present addressing these issues with the health boards and the voluntary hospitals.