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I AM writing in response to the letter published on April 21, headlined “Food for thought”, which raised concerns about whether new visiting times on adult inpatient wards at Worthing and Southlands hospitals would cause problems for patients who need assistance to feed themselves.

I fully understand that people may feel concerned about these changes to visiting times, but I would like to offer reassurance that the changes are designed to improve patient care, and have been implemented in partnership with our patients and their families.

The new, more structured, visiting times allow patients time to rest, and allows staff the time and space to offer the best possible care for their patients.

The new visiting times also provide staff the time to support the protected meal time initiative, ensuring all the ward staff can focus on supporting patients with their nutritional needs. The trust currently provides a number volunteers who are able to support patients with their meals and the trust is currently increasing this group of volunteers.

If a family member wishes to be involved in assisting family members at meal times, the ward sister would be pleased to support the family member – irrespective of the new visiting times.

We would never want our approach to be “one size fits all”, and so staff are always prepared to be flexible.

Ultimately, we want our patients to be well rested, well nourished, and well cared for, and we will always work with patients and their families and carers to help us achieve that.

Cathy Stone

director of nursing and patient safety

Western Sussex Hospitals

NHS Trust