OPEN visiting times have been introduced in hospitals across hospitals in North Wales.

Health bosses hope it will offer greater flexibility to families, friends and carers.

Restricted visiting hours will still remain in place in specialist departments, including critical care, high dependency units, coronary care, maternity, special care baby and paediatric units and in certain circumstances – for example, during meal times or where patients are receiving treatment – visitors might face a wait on arrival.

The policy applies to all general wards across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), including Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan and Ysbyty Gwynedd in bangor.

The health board hopes that by removing the restricted visiting hours, families and carers will feel more involved in patients’ care.

Gill Harris, executive director of nursing and midwifery for BCUHB, said: “Contact with friends, families and carers is a really important part of helping many of our patients get better, which is why we’ve introduced a new, more flexible approach to visiting hours.

“By opening up our visiting hours, we want families and friends to feel more involved in the care of their loved ones, helping them to get more benefit from inpatient care and hopefully making their transition from hospital back into the community smoother.

“We’re inviting friends, family and carers to visit patients at whatever time suits them – provided it’s in the best interest of the patient.

”We respectfully ask that sleeping hours remain as uninterrupted as possible, as well as times when our staff are providing direct care or treatment.

“We acknowledge there’s no obligation for visitors to spend more time with loved ones, and recognise that, in some circumstances, hospital care can provide a respite of sorts.

”We simply want to offer increased flexibility for visitors, which in turn will help us to provide the best care possible for our patients.”

Healthcare staff, where possible, will work around agreed visiting hours to make the most of the increased flexibility.

When this is not possible and patients require care, treatments or examinations, visitors may be asked to leave a room or ward.

Likewise, visitors may be asked to temporarily leave an area should a nearby patient require urgent care or attention.