Restrictions to remain in place on hospital visits in Badenoch and Strathspey
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Visiting at NHS Highland's two hospitals in Badenoch and Strathspey – and across the wider region – will remain at Level 1 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 framework for now.
Health chiefs have said that this is due to staffing pressures across the Highlands, Argyll and Bute as well as pressures remaining within the healthcare system.
This guidance will remain under review and NHS Highland has said it will provide an update on visiting guidance as soon as it can.
Kate Patience-Quate, NHS Highland’s deputy director of nursing, said: “We know that 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 entire health and social care system are at an unprecedented level.
“We hope to move to Level 0 restrictions as soon as we are able to.
"We appreciate the co-operation of our patients and their loved ones during this time.
"We will monitor and review the visiting guidance on a regular basis.”
The guidance on hospital visiting within Level 1 regions 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 commented: “We recognise that 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 guidance on hand hygiene.”
Loved ones can still visit someone in hospital or accompany someone to appointments if they are:
* a birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits;
* visiting someone receiving end-of-life care; or
* supporting 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 accompanying a child.
The two hospitals in the strath are St Vincent's in Kingussie and Ian Charles Hospital in Grantown.
The strath and wider Scotland has edged closer to normality today as the country moved into Level 0 Covid restrictions.
Today's change means that more people will be allowed to gather in larger groups, while pubs and restaurants can stay open for longer.