Community hospital and mental health ward visitors need to take lateral flow tests

17th January 2022

People visiting loved ones in Dorset’s community hospitals now need to take a lateral flow test before coming, and provide proof of a negative result.

Following advice from NHS England, Dorset HealthCare now requires evidence of a test for anyone visiting inpatients at its hospitals in Alderney (Poole), Blandford, Bridport, Sherborne, Shaftesbury, Swanage and Weymouth (Westhaven).

This also applies to all mental health inpatient settings across the county. The test is required regardless of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

The move is designed to help limit the spread of the virus to potentially vulnerable patients (not just those being treated for COVID-19) and Trust staff. And, as usual, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should not visit a healthcare site.

Cara Southgate, Dorset HealthCare’s Deputy Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality, said:

“We recognise the very important contribution that seeing loved ones makes to the wellbeing of our patients. However, while COVID-19 continues to be in circulation, we must remain vigilant and follow guidance which will help protect the health and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff.”

Before visiting our sites, visitors should also:

  • contact the ward/setting to discuss local arrangements
  • remember patients can see only one named visitor
  • be ready to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face mask (unless they can provide evidence of exemption), and follow social distancing/ hand-washing guidelines
  • limit the amount of belongings they bring.

If you are unable to visit a friend or relative in person, we can arrange for you to speak to them via a video call – also known as ‘virtual visiting’.

This has proved very popular during the pandemic, and can be arranged by contacting the ward where the person is staying. Go to for more information.

For information about visiting guidelines at Dorset’s acute hospitals, visit (for Bournemouth and Poole) and (for Dorchester).

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