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Patient visits will be allowed from Monday to Highlands' hospitals

By Gavin Musgrove

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Patients will be allowed back to St Vincent's Hospital in Kingussie from Monday.
Patients will be allowed back to St Vincent's Hospital in Kingussie from Monday.

Patients in the region's hospital will be able to have one visitor from Monday.

The relaxation will be allowed when Scotland moves from Level 4 to Level 3 restrictions that day.

Ruth Mantle, nurse consultant with NHS Highland, said: “Over the past few months we have only been able to accept essential visiting for the majority of our patients so we are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our hospitals.

“The support and comfort that visitors bring to our patients cannot be over-estimated.

"It is a key part of their recovery and has a positive effect on their overall quality of care.

"However, Covid has not gone away and visiting will have to be managed carefully to ensure the safety of our patients, our staff and members of the public.”

All patients in hospital will be able to have support from at least one person during their stay, and that person can be changed if required.

An NHS Highland spokeswoman said: "Visits will need to be arranged through appointments with the ward looking after loved ones to make sure we can maintain physical distancing in all ward areas.

"Visitors will be asked to wear a face covering or mask on arrival at the hospital and we are asking them to wash your hands on arrival, when they leave and when they get home.

"We are also asking visitors if they are feeling unwell, have any of the three main symptoms of Covid or are self-isolating, please do not come into the hospital to visit a loved one."

Alongside face coverings, distancing and hand hygiene, voluntary lateral flow testing can be an important addition to protecting patients, staff and visitors.

However, testing is not mandatory and not wishing or not being able to test will not be an obstacle to a visit.

Those who choose to take a test will still be required to wear a face covering, maintain distance and adhere to hand-hygiene requirements.

Ms Mantle said: “We know this past year has been challenging for everyone and with lockdown easing we are able to enjoy some freedom.

"We’re keen to see visitors back in our hospitals and look forward to working with them to ensure we keep everyone safe.”

More information for visiting loved ones in hospital is available here

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