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Visiting restrictions at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway are partially relaxed this week.

Since June 1, visiting in Western isles Hospital has been restricted to ‘Essential Visiting’ only. This has been considered necessary to ensure the safety of staff and patients. The Stornoway hospital is the only hospital available to meet the needs of the local population on Lewis and Harris and, due to current demand for inpatient beds, they had to increase the number of beds available and had not been able to maintain safe physical distancing.

Whilst the hospital continues to be extremely busy, and the COVID-19 transmission risk remains where physical distancing is challenging, NHS Western Isles has taken steps to mitigate, as far as possible, risks in busy ward areas. This includes introducing new partition screens in each ward.

"We would however stress to visitors and patients that transmission risks are ever-present and visitors must risk assess their own visits and ensure that they have taken every possible precaution to protect inpatients. This includes careful observance of safety precautions to protect themselves from the risks of contracting COVID-19 prior to visits, and where possible minimising unnecessary contact with others before and between visits.

"NHS Western Isles will continue to enforce infection prevention and control requirements for all visitors, including the use of hand sanitizer, wearing clinical face masks (or additional Personal Protective Equipment – PPE on request) and physical distancing in communal areas."


From today Monday (June 21), each inpatient in Western Isles Hospital will be able to have two indoor visits per week (one named visitor will be able to visit at a time). The named visitor may be changed for different visits, however ward staff must be notified in advance of who will be attending when visiting slots are being arranged. These visits, in the immediate future, must be arranged in advance with ward staff and visitors must follow safety precautions to ensure the risks to inpatients and staff is minimised.


All visitors are strongly encouraged to participate in the twice-weekly Universal Lateral Flow COVID-19 testing scheme, to help protect our patients and staff as visiting restrictions are relaxed. Free test kits can be ordered at: or by calling 119, or they can be collected free of charge from local pharmacies.


Virtual Visiting - Virtual Visiting continues to be offered and is an alternative option to visiting face-to-face. This service is supported by our staff and we would encourage visitors to keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones via virtual visits. If you would like to video call your friend or family member, or for further information, please telephone 01851 704704.

Outdoor or ‘Window’ Visits – Where circumstances allow, our staff are facilitating outdoor visits. Clearly this option is dependent on a number of factors, including the medical condition of the patient and on weather conditions. Appropriate areas in the hospital grounds are being identified and prepared for outdoor visits.


Essential visiting will continue for those who require an Essential Visitor. Examples of essential visits include (but are not limited to):

  • A birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits;
  • A person receiving end-of-life care;
  • To support someone with a mental health issue; or dementia, a learning disability or autism where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed;
  • To accompany a child in hospital.
  • Essential Visitors may visit more than once a day if required, and there is no restriction on the numbers of Essential Visitors for each inpatient, although they must be immediate family members.


  • In the event of a visitor developing symptoms of COVID-19, or becoming unwell, they must not visit and should notify the ward.
  • Visitors will be required to hand sanitize and wear clinical face masks on arrival at the hospital. Visitors should attend on time for their allocated appointment (half hour slots) and must observe physical distancing requirements throughout the hospital (with the exception of the inpatient they are visiting). Visitors must only visit the one inpatient whilst in the hospital and should only go to the ward they are visiting.
  • Visiting in the hospitals in Benbecula and Barra will remain at present as two named visitors.