Quite a number of services provided by NHS Western Isles NHS remain restricted, the local NHS service has been reminding people in a series of news releases over the past week. 

Across the Western Isles, Patient Travel Offices remain closed to the public – but bookings can be made by email or phone.
 Telephone contact can be made from 9.00am-1.00pm/2.00pm-4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

  • Lewis & Harris Patient Travel Office 
Tel:  01851 708021 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Uist Patient Travel Office
 Tel: 01870 603606   /  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Barra Patient Travel Office
 Tel: 01871 810431  /  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Balivanich, NHS Western Isles is reminding members of the public that Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh (Uist and Barra Hospital) remains closed to the general public. Only patients, those attending appointments, individuals identified as the Designated or Essential Visitor, or members of NHS staff should be attending the hospital at the current time.  "We would point out in particular that neither the Dining Room or hospital toilet facilities are open to the public."

And from Monday 27th July Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh will request that where patients can have their clothes collected and washed at home, this should be done. This was standard practice prior to the lockdown period. Each hospital patient will be asked whether their Designated Visitor (or other family member/carer) will be able to uplift clothes requiring laundry. 

Meanwhile, NHS Scotland national screening programmes, which were paused in March because of coronavirus (COVID-19) are now resuming safely, carefully and in a series of stages. Anyone who was invited for cervical screening before the pause should now contact their GP practice to make an appointment. This applies to anyone who was yet to make an appointment or who had made an appointment which was then cancelled. Appointment invitations and reminders are now also being posted (from July 20), with invitations sent to those who receive more frequent (non-routine) cervical screening appointments. 

Invitations to attend routine screening appointments will be issued from September 2020, once NHS Western Isles has caught up with non-routine appointments affected by the pause.  You should not attend your appointment if you are self-isolating, or if you are experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste). You should contact your GP Practice to reschedule your appointment. If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, you should arrange a test at the earliest opportunity by contacting the COVID-19 Response Team on 01851 601151 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

“It is important to emphasise to patients that, in between screening appointments, or as they wait for rescheduled appointments, they should continue to be aware of and act on any symptoms associated with the conditions being screened for,” says NHS Western Isles.

Some clinics which recently restarted are Audiology, Ophthalmology (glaucoma), Pain and Dermatology.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “This month, we have held more face-to-face appointments than the number of appointments carried out remotely using telephone or Near Me. This was to be expected, given the number of patients who have been waiting for a face-to-face consultation. However, going forward, we do expect that the majority of outpatient consultations will be carried out remotely.”  Clisham area is now running as an Ambulatory Care Unit with several services currently operating from that area: Chemotherapy, IV infusions and Cardiac Services, including ECHO provision. 

Dental Services and local optometrists continue to provide more appointments but numbers are still restricted by physical distancing and the enhanced cleaning required between appointments. Those attending appointments at hospitals or dental surgeries in the Western Isles can now  choose an accompanying person to attend appointments with them.

For attendance at GP Practices or other private healthcare premises in the Western Isles, please contact them directly in terms of individual arrangements on attending appointments.

Anyone attending healthcare appointments must ensure they continue to follow physical distancing guidance (maintaining a 2-metre distance from others), and adhere to hand hygiene measures (using hand sanitiser on entry, and before they enter clinical areas) to reduce the risk of infection. All those entering clinical areas will also be required to wear a face mask, which will be provided.  

Mr Jamieson said: “We are now working on a plan to reintroduce elective surgery, concentrating initially on day surgery but with the aim to add inpatients as well. Cataract surgery was performed last week, and this will continue on a monthly basis, though the number we can perform at present is reduced.

“Planning the recovery of elective surgery is a complex process and we ask for your patience at this time. Patients will require to be clinically prioritised, so that those with the greatest clinical need are seen first. If you are already on the waiting list then you will be contacted in the near future. Some patients will already have been contacted to ascertain availability and advised of the process and potential risks of surgery at this time.”

As for maternity services, women across the Western Isles are now being invited to identify one designated person to accompany them to scans, antenatal appointments and postnatal appointments.

Visiting slots for the designated visitor will be provided by ward staff to the mother-to-be, and will be for 30 minutes at a time, until further notice. Visitors will be met by a member of staff from the Maternity Ward at the door, where they will be asked a few questions about their general health (wellness check) and will be asked to use hand sanitizer and to put on a mask.  There are no restrictions on how often birth partners can visit and, if physical distancing permits, there is no restriction on the period of time that they can visit.

New visiting arrangements are in place across all hospitals in the Western Isles. 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.