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NSW hospital visits: State scraps ‘cruel’ Covid rule after backlash

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NSW has overhauled its Covid rules — after tragic stories emerged and the state’s health minister was flamed in a radio interview.

NSW has overhauled its Covid rules to allow people to be by the side of a dying loved one — after tragic stories emerged and the state’s health minister was flamed in a radio interview.

Under the new guidelines, designed to “increase visitor access”, people will be allowed to visit patients at the end of their life, those diagnosed ill with a life-threatening condition, or women who are giving birth, The Daily Telegraph reports.

People will also reportedly be allowed to visit if it is “beneficial for the patient’s emotional or physical wellbeing” — but safety measures may be applied if there is a “local high risk of Covid-19 transmission”.

The rule-change comes after several heartbreaking stories of people unable to visit their loved ones in hospitals have emerged in recent weeks.

The bereft include Gayle Roberts, who received an apology from the Premier last week after she was made to leave her dying mother’s side at Campbelltown Hospital.

NSW Health has restricted most visits because of fears the coronavirus will spread to vulnerable patients.

Brad Hazzard told 2GB host Ben Fordham on Wednesday that decisions over whether to allow family members to visit was part of a “difficult balancing act” between compassion and safety.

“Any one of us who have had someone dying in hospital, I think we focus individually on that loved one we have,” Mr Hazzard said.

“But we also know if somebody else came in and brought this terrible disease in and actually made it even worse for our family and the other family members who are in that ward, then we would not like that either.”

But Fordham said blocking visits was “heartless and cruel” and demanded to know when the rules would be changed.

“When you put people in this predicament it’s just absolutely horrendous … people have a right to die with some dignity, and that has been taken away,” he said.

Fordham interrupted Mr Hazzard several times when the Health Minister began addressing the concerns.

“When are we going to let these people in,” he asked.

But when Mr Hazzard began explaining the difficulties involved, Fordham cut him off.

“You’re giving me statistics again, minister, people don’t want to hear that right now, they want to hear you answer the question,” Fordham said.

“Ben, you can raise your voice and yell at me, but I’m dealing with a very difficult situation,” Mr Hazzard replied.

Mr Hazzard said that apart from the contagion risk, hospital visits also risked draining resources that were needed elsewhere.

“(Visitors) have to be managed by a nurse through a hospital and into the correct ward,” he said.

“They have to be managed while they’re there … and of course when we have 6800 staff furloughed just a few weeks ago, that’s putting massive pressure on our doctors and nurses.”

The Health Minister said the guidelines for visits were being scrutinised and they could possibly change within days.



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