Australian State Hospital Visiting Rules Eased to Allow Families to Visit Dying Loved Ones

Australian State Hospital Visiting Rules Eased to Allow Families to Visit Dying Loved Ones
Emergency Medicine Specialist Dr Kevin Maruno and medical team take a suspected COVID-19 patient in to the isolation ward in the Red zone of the Emergency Department at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Australia, on June 4, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Rebecca Zhu
2/10/2022
Updated:
2/10/2022

Visiting rules for hospitals in New South Wales (NSW) have been relaxed to allow the families to see loved ones who are seriously ill, dying, or giving birth.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the changes, saying there was a “fine balance” between being cautious in the high-risk settings in hospitals and allowing people to visit.

“But ultimately we want to make sure that compassion is the major focus as we move through,” Perrottet told reporters on Thursday. “And we want circumstances where we have patients at their end of life, that their carers, their loved ones are there for those obviously very special moments.”

The revised guidelines will now be in favour of allowing visits over restricting them if “it is beneficial for the patient’s emotional or physical wellbeing, including for women who are giving birth.”

Rules were tightened under restrictions introduced during the Omicron outbreak, causing some families to lose the final moments with their loved ones.

However, this only applies to fully vaccinated people and people who are yet to receive two COVID-19 vaccination shots will continue to be barred from hospital visitations.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference at Stone and Chalk Startup Hub in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 7, 2022. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference at Stone and Chalk Startup Hub in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 7, 2022. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

“Obviously during the course of this everchanging pandemic there have been everchanging rules and guidance for visitors to hospitals and it has been challenging,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said, adding the new guidelines would also be under constant review.

Hazzard said the limitations on visitors in hospitals had been “quite horrible,” as he had personally dealt with many people who had family members who were passing away.

“Obviously the balancing act is trying to make sure that we do give access [to loved ones] but also patients are actually kept safe,” he said.

It comes after Hazzard had a heated interview with the host of 2GB radio on Feb. 9 over allowing visitation changes.

Meanwhile, Perrottet also announced that the resumption of elective surgeries in Sydney’s public hospitals will be a priority for the government after the operations restarted in private and non-metropolitan hospitals on Monday.

“We have people that are showing immense, enormous patience in terms of having that surgery held off,” he said.

The state is also on course to ease restrictions that had been reintroduced in response to Omicron, such as indoor mask mandates and density restrictions, on Feb. 27.

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