As a result of a high level of respiratory illness within Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, including confirmed cases of Influenza A, NHS Western Isles has taken the decision to temporarily restrict visiting hours.

NHS Western Isles has taken the measure to protect hospital patients, staff and visitors.

As of today (Wednesday January 10), visiting will be restricted to between 2pm-3pm and 7pm-8.30pm, until further notice.  In special circumstances, additional visiting arrangements can be discussed with the Senior Charge Nurse of a ward.

Any members of the public with flu or flu-like symptoms are requested not to visit patients in hospital.

Members of the public are reminded the free flu vaccination remains available for those in the ‘at-risk’ groups, as well as those over 65, pregnant women and all healthcare workers and carers.

Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, stated: “The vaccination is the best and most effective form of protection against flu. The flu virus can make even healthy people very unwell – and puts extra pressure on our health service at what is already a very busy time of year. In line with the rest of Scotland, we are seeing a higher than usual number of people within the community with flu-like illnesses, as well as an increasing number of patients admitted to hospital with flu symptoms.

“The flu vaccine protects against the strain of flu currently circulating. Flu is a serious illness, in particular for those with underlying health conditions, so I would strongly encourage those who are eligible – including those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women – to make getting the vaccination a priority and book an appointment with their GP practice as soon as possible.”