Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed new guidance from the Scottish Government which will allow people in hospital who do not have Covid-19 to have a designated visitor.
Until 13 July, hospital visits during the pandemic had only been permitted in limited essential circumstances. These included where a patient is reaching end-of-life, where a patient needs a birthing partner to be present or where people with mental health issues would be caused distress if they didn’t receive the benefit of a visit.
The return of hospital visits is a three phased plan, in this first phase, hospital visitors will need to adhere to strict public health guidance to ensure patient, staff and visitor safety, and to protect progress made in suppressing the spread of COVID-19. All hospital visitors must:
- arrange a time to visit in advance with ward staff, providing their contact details
- not visit any other patient in the hospital and must not bring anything with them, such as food
- adhere to strict hand hygiene and face covering guidance
- maintain strict physical distancing in communal areas of hospital
- not visit anyone in hospital if they have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
Specific visiting arrangements may vary between health boards depending on the type of care patients are receiving, and the space available in different care settings to maintain physical distancing.
The SNP MSP said: “NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and health boards across Scotland have worked very hard to prepare to allow visitors safely enter their buildings in accordance with health guidance.
“Being in hospital can be a very distressing time, particularly during this uncertain time, so the phased return of being able to have visitors will hopefully provide comfort to people who have not been able to see loved ones.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“Restricting access to people in hospital has been necessary to keep patients and staff as safe as possible and it has helped us protect the capacity and resilience of NHS Scotland.
“There is a need to balance the risk of physical and psychological harm that the absence of visitors can cause, with the gradual reduction of COVID-19. We have worked with Health Protection Scotland to plan how we safely restore a person-centered approach to visiting in Scotland’s hospitals.
“The safety of patients, staff and visitors will continue to be our priority. I want to reassure you that we are taking these precautions so that we can safely offer the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”
Guidance for hospital visitors – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-hospital-visiting-guidance/
Essential hospital visiting is permitted for patients with COVID-19. Essential visits includes circumstances such as, but not limited to, visits at end-of-life, birthing partners, to accompany children, and to visit people with mental health issues such as dementia, learning disabilities or autism where not having a visit would cause distress.
Updates on public health advice for COVID-19 can be found on NHS Inform, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816. If patients have any concerns they should contact 999 for emergencies or 111 for any urgent requests.
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should now contact the NHS to arrange to be tested – either online at NHS Inform, or by calling 0800 028 2816.