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NHS Highland updates hospital visiting guidance across the region; Two visitors at a time allowed at Raigmore Hospital in line with national guidelines


By Ian Duncan

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Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Up to two visitors are now able to visit patients at Raigmore Hospital following changes to NHS Highland's Covid-19 visiting guidance in line with national guidance covering areas under level one restrictions.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, visiting has been restricted to all hospitals in Highland, Argyll and Bute and limited for some time to essential visits and one designated visitor only.

With the Highland Council area of NHS Highland now at level one, plans are being put in place to extend visiting to certain areas within our hospital sites in line with national guidance.

“We recognise that this is a challenging time for everyone and hope people understand why we are introducing this gradually. We want people to be able to connect with their loved ones in hospital whilst protecting the safety of patients, staff and visitors alike.As well as our plans to extend visiting, we would also like to take this opportunity to promote the use of technology to support virtual visiting."

Kate Patience-Quate, deputy nurse director of NHS Highland, said: “The importance of visiting within hospitals cannot be overstated, bringing comfort to both those receiving visitors and to those visiting. It is a fundamental part of the care of a patient in hospital.

“We know just how difficult it was for everyone involved when the visiting restrictions were put in place and I am pleased that for our hospitals in level one, the Highland Council area, we are able to extend it a bit further.

“Each area will now progress with their hospital wide plans to allow this change to happen but I must stress that, as the risk of Covid cannot be ignored, we are taking a cautious approach with this and ask that visitors should still liaise with the nurse or midwife in charge to ensure arrangements are agreed before they come in to visit.”

With the updated guidance, patients in some hospital departments will either be able to choose up to two visitors at the same time or on separate occasions depending on the local ward environment.

Raigmore Hospital in particular will be taking a very cautious approach to this change in guidance and will be implementing a phased approach as it will not be possible for them to have two designated visitors at the one time and careful preparation is now underway to ensure two designated visitors at separate times can be taken forward.

To keep everyone safe NHS Highland has asked that family and friends of loved ones in hospital help by doing the following:

• Identify one named person to communicate with the hospital staff caring for the patient;

• All visits are pre-arranged with the hospital ward as scheduling of visits must be in place;

• Do not visit if you are experiencing any Covid symptoms, you have been advised to self-isolate, or you are awaiting a Covid test result – if you feel unwell and are unsure if it is Covid-related contact NHS 24 for advice;

• Please observe national travel restrictions. Essential visits can be arranged by prior arrangement with the hospital ward;

• Wear a suitable face covering for the entire visit and sanitise your hands on entrance to the hospital when entering the ward, and then as advised by staff and please adhere to physical distancing across all areas of the hospital;

• Please accept that the timing of your visit may need to be restricted to ensure safe distancing and allow other patients to see their family and friends.

Mrs Patience-Quate said: “We recognise that this is a challenging time for everyone and hope people understand why we are introducing this gradually. We want people to be able to connect with their loved ones in hospital whilst protecting the safety of patients, staff and visitors alike.

“As well as our plans to extend visiting, we would also like to take this opportunity to promote the use of technology to support virtual visiting.

"Our patients and their friends and family have already been using their own smart phones to stay in touch which we are encouraging but each hospital ward also has access to an iPad which can also be used, via a booking system, to enable patients to connect with their loved ones in the Highlands or further afield.

"This is particularly important for family and friends who may live in other parts of the country and as a result of Covid restrictions cannot easily visit at this time.

“Details about virtual visiting are available from our local hospital teams who will be happy to talk to you about this should you wish to know more.”



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