ROMSEY’s hospital has introduced a ban on visiting patients and asked locals for understanding as pressure grows on the NHS.

With rising Covid-19 cases and a new, more infectious strain, Romsey Hospital, Winchester Hill, has restricted visitors across all their sites, a spokesperson from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust confirmed.

"We have not taken this decision lightly, and recognise the impact on patients, service users, families and staff . However, it is crucial that we do this in order to keep everyone safe," the spokesperson said.

The hospital is encouraging patients and families to use technology, such as video calls, to keep in contact.

But, the hospital stressed exceptions will be made for patients who are nearing the end of their life.

The spokesperson added: "This will be decided on a case-by-case basis with input from the family, loved ones, carers and the ward team.

"We understand how hard it has been, and continues to be, for patients and loved ones and would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this extraordinary time."

The Trust asked for patience as the NHS copes with tough times.

It said on its website: “As a result of the national crisis, we’ve had to make temporary changes to some of our healthcare services.

“If your appointment or treatment has been affected then our teams will be in contact.

“Please bear with us during these unprecedented times, we apologise for any changes to your care and would ask you to contact your local team or service if you have any questions.”

The hospital's outpatient services are still running but, as with previous lockdowns, this will be done by appointment only and with PPE (unless someone is exempt) to help protect staff and patients.

Blood tests are now appointment only to enable social distancing and reduce waiting times for patients. Patients can choose where and when they have their blood test. Appointments can be made by GPs, outpatient clinics or by patients.

The number to make appointments at the hospital is 023 8120 4877. The service is available Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm.