By Bill Heaney
Due to the increasing challenges faced as a result of the new Omicron variant, and in order to protect the safety of our patients and staff, the difficult decision has been taken to operate essential-only visiting from Wednesday 5 January 2022 in our adult hospital wards.
This change will include maternity services meaning only one essential visitor will be permitted in all parts of the maternity pathway.
Jennifer Rodgers, Deputy Nurse Director at NHSGGC, said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions to take but it is essential to help protect our patients, visitors and staff. We recognise how difficult this is for patients and the people that matter most to them and we will keep this under close review so that restrictions are not in place any longer than is necessary.
“This decision has been reached in conjunction with senior infection control, public health, clinical and operational teams, and in the best interests of patient well-being.
Jennifer added: “Essential visiting arrangements will be applied flexibly and compassionately, and each patient’s needs considered on their own merits. Carers, those providing essential care or emotional support, or spiritual care are not considered to be visitors and will continue to be permitted to attend a patient in hospital.
“Essential visits will be supported wherever possible and include the following illustrative examples:
- A birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits and throughout the maternity pathway
- A person receiving end-of-life care – we expect this to be defined as flexibly and compassionately as possible, to support patients at the end of life spending meaningful time with their loved ones in their final days, weeks or months
- To support someone with a mental health issue, or dementia, or a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
- To accompany a child in hospital
- In general situations when someone is receiving information about life-changing illness or treatments.
- In these and other similar situations where support from another person is essential for advocacy and wellbeing, family support should be facilitated.
Evelyn Frame, Chief Midwife said: “we understand that support from birthing partners has a positive impact on a woman’s experience so making this decision has been very difficult but, as this variant seems to be more transmissible, our priority has to be keeping our women and staff as safe as possible.
Evelyn added, “For our inpatient areas we encourage a person-centred, flexible visiting approach and within ante-natal and post-natal visiting continues but only the birthing partner will be allowed. No other visitors will be allowed including siblings. During labour and birth only one birthing partner will also be allowed to stay throughout the whole labour experience.
“In our outpatient areas – anyone coming for a scan, early pregnancy or day care, or perhaps an outpatient appointment with one of our physiotherapist, dietician, midwife or obstetrician there is no change and you can bring your birthing partner for the duration of your appointment.
“Anyone with questions about visiting arrangements should speak to their midwife.”
Angela O’Neil Deputy Nurse Director said: “we recognise how difficult it is for families being apart, especially when their loved one is unwell. Where possible ward staff will continue to support patients to maintain contact with those closest to them however due to the extreme pressures staff are under if may not be possible to give an exact time or day when a video call or telephone call can be guaranteed. We are sorry for any distress this may cause and of course, staff will always try to facilitate these calls where possible, however we ask for your understanding while we try to manage under very challenging circumstances. Further information on arranging a virtual visit can be found on the NHSGGC Webpages
Angela added: “The successful ‘Give and Go Service’ available earlier in the pandemic will be remobilised for family to drop-off essential personal items for patients and to pick up laundry etc. The service will be available from Wednesday 5 January 2022, and thereafter Monday – Friday as follows:
- Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (main atrium) – items should also be dropped off here for patients in the INS – available between 12pm – 4pm
- Glasgow Royal Infirmary (medical block entrance) – available between 12pm – 5pm
- Royal Alexandra Hospital (main hospital foyer) – available between 12pm – 5pm
- Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (main entrance), available between 8.30am – 3.30pm, and
- Local arrangements will be in operation in all other sites.
“Please speak to ward staff who will advise of local arrangements for dropping off and collecting belongings.
“It should be noted Current visiting arrangements will remain in place until Tuesday 4 January 2022. These are as follows:
- Patients in shared accommodation such as nightingale type wards and 4 and 6 bedded bays will be able to have essential visits only
- Patients in single room accommodation will be able to benefit from the support of one visitor. This visitor can change each day.
- Two visitors per day is recommended for patients in paediatrics, neonates and maternity wards.
- Mental Health, Addictions and Learning Disabilities staff will make a visiting plan with each patient based on their individual needs and circumstance, and the local risks that present in each ward.
- In line with infection prevention and control practice, wards with current active infection cases are required to temporarily restrict visiting to essential visits only
- As always, there may be some individual patients who are particularly vulnerable to the risks of infection. For these patients, visiting will remain at essential visits only.
“We would like to thank our patients and their loved ones in advance for their patience and support during this incredibly difficult and challenging time.”