Coronavirus: NHS Lothian suspends hospital visits ‘to protect patients, our staff and the wider community’ amid rising cases of Covid-19

All non-essential visits to NHS Lothian sites have been suspended, the health board has announced this afternoon.

The move is designed to safeguard patients and staff, as cases of coronavirus in the community in the region continue to rise.

NHS Lothian said ward staff have been drafted in to contact the relatives of patients, who had previously been identified as designated visitors, to inform them of the new ban.

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Under current Scottish Government guidance, some essential visits to NHS Lothian sites are still permitted, including when patients are receiving end-of-life care, and for patients with mental health issues including dementia.

NHS Lothian said ward staff have been drafted in to contact the relatives of patients, who had previously been identified as designated visitors, to inform them of the new ban.

Children being treated by the health board, as well as maternity unit patients are also allowed visitors.

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian said visits for these patients must be coordinated with senior charge nurses or midwives.

If someone has symptoms of coronavirus, or has been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, they are not allowed to visit NHS Lothian sites and must stay at home and self-isolate.

Fiona Ireland, Deputy Director of Nursing at the health board said: “Across Lothian, Scotland and the UK, we are seeing rising levels of COVID-19 within the community.

“We have taken the difficult decision to suspend visiting across our sites to help minimise the risk of transmission, to protect patients, our staff and the wider community, and to manage the increasing pressure on our acute and community sites.

“I understand that not being able to visit family members while they are in hospital may be upsetting,” she added, “but I would like to assure the public that this decision has not been taken lightly.

“With higher levels of COVID-19 cases within the community, there is an increased risk that visitors could inadvertently bring COVID-19 into our hospital sites, especially if they are not showing any symptoms.

“This decision will help manage the increasing risks of COVID-19 transmission and protect the safety of your loved ones, our staff and the wider community. I would urge our patients and families to help us by respecting this difficult decision.”

What is classified as an essential visit?

Guidance from the Scottish Government stipulates that essential visits include:

•Visiting patients receiving end of life care

•Visiting patients with mental health issues including dementia

•Visiting patients with learning disabilities

•Visiting patients with autism

•Visiting birthing partners

•Visiting children

Personal items for patients

Relatives are still able to bring personal items to their loved ones being treated in hospital, but are expected to leave the items with the ward staff and not enter the ward itself.

Under 18s in adult wards

If your child, up to the age of 18, is being treated in an adult NHS Lothian ward, the nurse in charge will be able to coordinate a visit to see them.

Birth partners

Birth partners are allowed to visit NHS Lothian’s maternity units, but visitors are limited to one per patient.

To stay up to date with the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) advice, visit NHS Inform here.

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