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Essential visitors only at Caithness General Hospital as NHS Highland tries to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread

By John Davidson

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Only essential visitors will be allowed access to Caithness General Hospital.
Only essential visitors will be allowed access to Caithness General Hospital.

NHS Highland has restricted visiting at Caithness General Hospital to essential visitors only to help reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 infection.

The health board, which has also instigated the visiting restrictions at Belford Hospital in Fort William and Lorn and Isles Hospital in Oban, said it aims to restrict the spread of the coronavirus through its rural general hospitals.

Katherine Sutton, NHS Highland’s chief officer (acute), said: “We continue to see an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in our communities and this is having a direct impact on our staffing levels. This means we are at risk of being unable to deliver services across our acute hospital sites.

“We have worked closely with our colleagues in infection control and we believe restricting visiting will help reduce the risk of introducing infection from the local community into our hospitals, and give us the best chance to protect our patients and staff."

It follows similar restrictions on visitors announced last week at Raigmore Hospital and New Craigs Hospital in Inverness, where a number of wards had been closed due to Covid-19 impacting on staffing levels.

Ms Sutton added: “We understand that this decision will cause anxiety for our patients, families and staff, however we believe the move to essential visiting across the hospitals will help us reduce the spread of the virus into our hospitals.

“If your visit is essential, please contact the hospital ward your relative or loved one is in, and the staff will support you with making arrangements to visit safely. Please do not visit the hospital if you or anyone else in your household has tested positive for Covid-19 or has any symptoms.

“National guidance now requires that, prior to visiting a loved one in hospital, you should take a lateral flow test and only visit if you return a negative result.

“We are grateful to the public for your ongoing co-operation and understanding. If you are visiting the hospital, please ensure that you wear a face mask and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you go onto the ward/department and as you leave the hospital.”

Scottish Government guidance on hospital visiting is available at www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-hospital-visiting-guidance

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