OXFORDSHIRE'S hospitals will be abolishing set visiting hours later this year, health bosses have confirmed.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) said it will be introduce open visiting across its four hospital sites from September in a move which aims to create a more ‘positive’ experience for patients, relatives and staff.

The new policy will be rolled out across the John Radcliffe Hospital, the Churchill Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

A two-week pilot in selected wards at each of the four hospitals will run this month to help shape a new set of rules for visitors who will soon be able to see their loved ones in hospital at any time.

The trust consulted staff and the public on the new policy earlier this year with more than 500 respondents taking part.

Concerns had been raised that open visiting could interfere with staff duties, prevent patients resting, and compromise patients' privacy and dignity.

However, staff also recognised the potential benefits, such as receiving assistance from visitors with feeding and personal care, improving communication between staff and visitors and better support for patients.

OUH will now use the pilot to determine how best to work the new policy including details such as how to avoid visitors getting in the way of clinical work and how many visitors are allowed around a patient's bed at one time.

The official launch will take place at the trust's Annual General Meeting in September.