The Emergency Department (ED) team appreciate and recognises your need to be with your family member or friend when they present to the ED. The number of patients we treat and the design of the building can make it difficult to accommodate all of a patient’s family and friends who may wish to visit a patient while they are here.

Our team work to provide safe, timely and efficient care while maintaining our patients’ dignity and privacy. We need your assistance to help us achieve these objectives and to ensure the best level of care for all patients while you are here. You can help us by following the guidance given below.


When a patient arrives in the ED

Please allow the Emergency Department staff approximately 20 minutes on the patient's arrival to undertake an assessment and make them comfortable.

However, if you feel you can improve the patients care by being present e.g. where the patient is confused, vulnerable or distressed, please discuss this with the Nurse-in-Charge and we will accommodate you.

Duration of visiting

The recommended visiting time is 20 minutes. This ensures the delivery of care to the patient is not disrupted.

Emergency Department staff recognise that certain patients need a family member or friend to be present at all times to assist with their care and communication needs. In these cases the Nurse-in-Charge will aim to ensure your presence at all times.

General Guidance

  • Family and friends are asked to comply with all hospital policies regarding hand hygiene and measures to prevent the spread of suspected infection.
  • Do not supply patients with food and drinks without checking with the nurse or doctor caring for the patient. The patient may need to fast for an investigation or procedure.
  • The use of mobile phones may be restricted in the ED – please ask staff.
  • Do not leave valuables unattended in the ED.
  • Violence or aggression towards staff or patients will not be tolerated.
  • Please be aware that the ED is a treatment area and refrain from behaviour that would disturb patients or distract staff. Family and friends are requested to and comply with any requests made by Emergency Department staff.

  1. Check with a member of staff before you leave that the correct contact details have been recorded if you are the patient’s next of kin or the person to be contacted if an emergency occurs.
  2. Families are encouraged to designate a family spokesperson to facilitate effective communication among extended family members and hospital staff.
When Young People are Patients

If the patient is a young person or child (under 18 years) both parents will be invited to remain in the treatment room.

You may be asked to leave the ED sometimes

  1. Occasionally, circumstances may arise when it is inappropriate for any family or friends to be present with a patient during their treatment.
  2. If an emergency occurs while you are with your family member or friend, you may be asked to go to the waiting room for a period of time. You will be kept informed of the situation by a member of staff and will be able to return as soon as is appropriate.
  3. If more than one family member or friend has accompanied a patient to the Emergency Department, we will ask that just one person remains at the bedside. This is due to space constraints within the Emergency Department and to allow privacy for all patients.
  4. If a patient does not wish to have family or friends present.
  5. To protect a patient’s privacy and confidentiality.
  6. The presence of family or friends may be restricted for certain periods during the day to allow for personal care or meal times.
  7. When doctors are examining a patient.
  8. Please be aware that there may be times when the guidelines need to be adjusted to protect both the patient and their family and friends e.g. Flu season, Winter Vomiting bug, when there is crowding in the Department.
When not to visit

Family and friends are requested not to visit if they have:

  • sore throats,
  • flu,
  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea or
  • any other infections in the previous two days.

This is to protect the patients in the Emergency Department from infection. We strongly discourage bringing children who are not patients to the Emergency Department.



Reference: Guidance on patients’ families and carers presence in Emergency Departments – Emergency Medicine Programme – March 2014