HC Deb 01 February 1965 vol 705 cc719-21
31. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made and contemplated in respect to unrestricted visiting by parents to children in hospitals and in deciding on the definition of unrestricted visiting in an effort to achieve some uniformity.

Mr. K. Robinson

My latest information is that, on the basis of the definition which I gave in reply to my hon. Friend on 16th November, 560 of the 853 hospitals which admit children have adopted the practice of unrestricted visiting by parents. Not all hospitals have yet completed the review of their arrangements which I have asked for; but I shall continue to watch the position closely in order to secure general adoption of the practice.

Mr. Dodds

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but can he state what is the definition of "unrestricted visiting"? Is it two hours, five hours, or seven hours per day?

Mr. Robinson

It goes very much further than that. Under the definition parents are allowed into the ward at any reasonable hour during the day, subject to the discretion of the consultant in charge and the sister. Five hundred and sixty hospitals comply with that definition. In addition, a further 48 hospitals have extremely generous visiting hours—at least from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Mr. Wood

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the definition itself leads to a good deal of confusion? Will he take steps to carry that definition a little further, so as to explain exactly what "reasonable hours" means?

Mr. Robinson

They are the hours at which children are not put to bed. This is well understood by the children's departments of hospitals. We have had a good deal of difficulty in formalising a definition in the past. The present one has been accepted by hospitals, and I would very much like to leave it where it is at the moment.

Mr. Snow

I am entirely in sympathy with the question put by my hon. Friend, but is the Minister aware that we can take this process a bit too far? The interest of the efficiency of nursing must be borne in mind.

Mr. Robinson

It is borne in mind. I can assure my hon. Friend that where unrestricted visiting has been adopted the fears previously expressed on the part of the staff have normally not been found to be justified.

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