Additionally, the start of each visiting period, which should last no more than two hours, should be supervised by a member of the ward staff who should remind visitors to wash their hands, health minister for Northern Ireland Michael McGimpsey said yesterday.
The new guidelines, designed to boost patient safety, infection control and dignity, also state that no patient should have more than two visitors at one time.
Mr McGimpsey said: ‘I hope that both visitors and staff will adhere to these new guidelines and I would ask everyone for their co-operation as we all work together to combat infections. Basic hygiene measures such as washing your hands when entering and leaving a ward is vital.
‘There will of course be circumstances where flexibility will be required and this will be borne in mind. All that is asked is that visitors remember to discuss and agree their arrangements with the nurse in charge,’ he added.