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Visiting hours at NHS Highland hospitals, including the Belford Hospital in Fort William, will remain within Level 1 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 framework for now, it was announced on Monday.
This is due to staffing pressures across Highland and Argyll and Bute.
NHS Highland said the guidance will remain under review and it will provide an update on visiting as soon as it can.
Kate Patience-Quate, NHS Highland’s Deputy Director of Nursing, said: ‘We know this will be disappointing for many people, however, we believe this is the safest option at this time as cases of Covid-19 remain widespread and pressures on the health and social care system are at an unprecedented level.
‘We hope to move to Level O restrictions as soon as we can. We appreciate the co-operation of our patients and their loved ones during this time. We will regularly monitor and review the visiting guidance.’
From Monday July 19, physical distancing in Level O reduced to one metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors. Informal social gatherings of up to 15 people from 15 households are now permitted outdoors without physical distancing.
Gatherings of up to 10 people from four households is permitted in all indoor public settings, with one metre physical distancing.
The guidance on hospital visiting within Level 1 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 framework recommends that family support from at least two visitors is permitted per patient. Any additional visitors are at the discretion of individual hospital management.
Ms Patience-Quate continued: ‘We recognise there will be exceptional circumstances and we will do everything we can to accommodate patients and their loved ones during this time.
‘We would encourage visitors to contact the nurse in charge of the ward their loved one is in before visiting. And we would once again remind visitors that face coverings must be worn at all times in the hospital and to follow hand hygiene guidance.’
You can still visit someone in hospital or accompany someone to appointments if you are:
• a birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits
• visiting someone receiving end-of-life care
• supporting someone with a mental health issue, dementia, a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
• accompanying a child