People in hospital who do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) will be able to have a designated visitor from today, Monday 13 July.
Until now, hospital visits during the pandemic have only been permitted in limited essential circumstances. These include 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.
In the first phase of this three part plan, 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
not visit any other patient in the hospital
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
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.
“I want to thank everyone who has followed this guidance as I know how hard it has been for patients, families and carers not to have seen their loved ones in hospital. The continued progress we are making in suppressing the virus has allowed us to safely, and in a series of phases, resume hospital visiting in line with clinical expert advice.
“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.”
Updated guidance for hospital visitors can be read online.
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.