New visiting arrangements will be in place from tomorrow (Monday July 13) across all hospitals in the Western Isles.

All NHS hospitals across Scotland are starting to allow people to visit patients in hospital. However, people who are unwell in hospital are vulnerable and at higher risk from COVID-19 than people who are well. Therefore, visits will have to be managed carefully.

Each patient in hospital will be invited to nominate one Designated Visitor for the duration of their admission to hospital. A Designated Visitor is someone chosen by the patient to be their named visitor. This may be their spouse, next of kin or friend. It is recommended that this person is also the main contact for communication.

Please note that you can only be the Designated Visitor for one patient, and you must only visit that one patient whilst you are in the hospital within your allocated slot.

Visiting will be arranged with the Designated Visitor via the NHS Western Isles Visiting Coordinator.

Visiting will be by pre-arranged appointment only to ensure the number of people in clinical areas is kept to a minimum at any one time. Those patients who require more frequent visiting (for example children, those with a learning disability or anyone in High Dependency) will be able to do so, by special arrangement with the Ward Senior Charge Nurse.

Until further notice, visits will be limited to half-an-hour to ensure all patients have the opportunity to receive visits, and to permit the necessary cleaning between visits. Visiting will take place for a limited period in the afternoon until further notice.

An NHS Western Isles spokesperson said: “To protect our patients and staff, it is important that you do not visit if you have been feeling unwell in any way, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been self isolating, or have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19. For this reason, a Visiting Coordinator will conduct a wellness check with you over the phone prior to arranging your visit.

“It is essential that you arrive at the hospital main entrance at your allocated visiting time, and we ask that you use the hand sanitizer and face mask provided at the hospital. You will be provided with a Visiting leaflet and will either be escorted or directed to the ward you are visiting. It is also important that you maintain the appropriate distance of two metres wherever possible, even if the patient you are visiting has previously been in your household or social bubble.”

NHS Western Isles would also point out that Virtual Visiting remains in place as an option to visit friends/relatives in all our hospitals.

If you have been selected as a Designated Visitor by a patient in hospital, our Visiting Coordinator will be in touch with you.

If you would like to arrange a Virtual Visit or have been named as a Designated Visitor and have not been contacted to arrange a visit, please contact 01851 708205 from Monday onwards.