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Hospitals ready to welcome back visitors

By Jean Gunn

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Caithness General Hospital.
Caithness General Hospital.

As from Monday, with Scotland going into level three restrictions, hospital patients in the NHS Highland area will be allowed to have one visitor.

Appreciating that for many it will have been several months since they have visited someone in hospital, guidance has been issued on what to expect.

Ruth Mantle, nurse consultant with NHS Highland who has been leading on Person Centred Visiting in hospitals said: “Over the past few months we have only been able to accept essential visiting for the majority of our patients so we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our hospitals.

“The support and comfort that visitors bring to our patients cannot be overestimated. It is a key part of their recovery and has a positive effect on their overall quality of care. However, Covid has not gone away and visiting will have to be managed carefully to ensure the safety of our patients, our staff and members of the public.”

All patients in hospital will be able to have support from at least one person during their stay, that person can be changed if required.

Visits will need to be arranged through appointments with the ward looking after your loved one to make sure physical distancing can be maintained in all ward areas. Visitors will be asked to wear a face covering or mask on arrival at the hospital and wash hands when arriving, leaving and on returning home.

Anyone feeling unwell, or having any of the three main symptoms of Covid, or those self-isolating, are being asked not to go and see a loved one in hospital.

Alongside face coverings, distancing and hand hygiene, voluntary lateral flow testing can be an important addition to protecting patients, staff and visitors. Information on how to order tests is on the Scottish Government’s website.

However, testing is not mandatory and not wishing or not being able to test will not be an obstacle to a visit. If you choose to take a test then you will still be required to wear a face covering, maintain distance and adhere to hand-hygiene requirements.

Ruth said: “We know this past year has been challenging for everyone and with lockdown easing we are able to enjoy some freedom. We’re keen to see visitors back in our hospitals and look forward to working with them to ensure we keep everyone safe.”

You can find national guidance here and a visitors leaflet here.

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