By Lucy Ashton
Today we are delighted to begin to welcome back visitors to our hospitals. However we do need to make sure patients, families and staff are as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visiting therefore needs to continue to be carefully managed at this time.
As arrangements evolve, we will continue to communicate with you regularly, to keep you updated. This communication contains more information about who can visit, circumstances where people may not be able to visit, and information about voluntary Lateral Flow Tests (LFT).
Who can visit?
Only one family member or friend, chosen by the patient or guardian, carer or power of attorney can visit at present.
This person should not change, unless, for example, you are ill or plan to be away. This is to make sure we do not have too many different people in our clinical environments from day to day.
We understand in some cases the family member chosen to visit may need to be accompanied by another person, for example a child visiting a parent or sibling, or a frail elderly person who cannot attend the hospital independently. The presence of this additional person will be facilitated – ward staff will explain how this will be supported.
Why might I not be able to visit?
COVID-19 is still with us and can be spread easily. To reduce risks, careful attention to infection prevention and control measures around family support still need to be maintained.
There are many vulnerable patients in our hospital wards and in particular, some types of illness and types of treatments where we need to proceed with extreme caution, ensure a risk assessment is undertaken appropriately, and reassess as and when circumstances change.
A consultant led, multidisciplinary, individual risk assessment is needed for high-risk patients (for example, some patients having surgery, or with low immunity), to help decide whether visits can be safely supported or not.
If a visit is not possible, we will tell you why. We will keep this under review where possible and will reassess as circumstances change.
What do I need to do before I visit?
To help keep everyone safe, we strongly recommend that all visitors undertake voluntary lateral flow testing prior to visiting. It is then recommended you undertake the test twice per week for as long as you are the named visitor.
This is optional – if you do not wish to have a test or are not able to test this will not be an obstacle to a visit.
If you have a positive LFT, or if you experience any symptoms such as a persistent cough, flu like symptoms, change to taste and smell or a raised temperature, you must not visit.
How do I arrange to have a voluntary lateral flow test (LFT)?
Information about how to order LFTs is available here, including information about ordering kits for delivery at home, or collecting from your nearest COVID-19 test site.
- Along with face coverings, physical distancing and hand washing, voluntary Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) can be important to help us protect patients, staff and visitors.
- All visitors are strongly encouraged to have a voluntary Lateral Flow Test (LFT) before you visit
- LFTs are available for anyone in Scotland from today, Monday 26 April
- If you are the named family visitor, we would encourage you to take a LFT twice a week – similar to the approach in other areas
- However, LFTs are voluntary – if you are not able to, or do not want, to take a LFT, you will still be able to visit.
- Even if you take a LFT, you will still be required to wear a face covering, wash your hands, and follow physical distancing measures in communal areas of our hospitals
Where can I find further information?
There is further information about the new visiting arrangements here.
Thank you again for your support and understanding, and we look forward to safely welcoming nominated family and friends back into our hospitals from today.