Hospitals across Glasgow’s health board region are to close their wards to all but essential visitors from next week due to the pressures of the Omicron Covid wave.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chiefs (NHSGGC) have announced the “difficult” decision that essential-only visiting will be put in place from Wednesday 5 January in adult hospital wards.
This means that only visitors deemed “essential” to a patient’s wellbeing, such as a parent, partner or carer, will be allowed into hospitals.
The change will include maternity services, meaning only one essential visitor will be permitted in all parts of the maternity services.
Jennifer Rodgers, Deputy Nurse Director at NHSGGC, said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions to take but it is essential to help protect our patients, visitors and staff.
“We recognise how difficult this is for patients and the people that matter most to them and we will keep this under close review so that restrictions are not in place any longer than is necessary.
“This decision has been reached in conjunction with senior infection control, public health, clinical and operational teams, and in the best interests of patient wellbeing.”
Wards will be closed to all but essential visitors
Ms Rodgers added: “Essential visiting arrangements will be applied flexibly and compassionately, and each patient’s needs considered on their own merits.
“Carers, those providing essential care or emotional support, or spiritual care are not considered to be visitors and will continue to be permitted to attend a patient in hospital.”
The Health board provided the following examples of someone who would be deemed and essential visitor:
- A birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits and throughout the maternity pathway.
- A person receiving end-of-life care – we expect this to be defined as flexibly and compassionately as possible, to support patients at the end of life spending meaningful time with their loved ones in their final days, weeks or months
- Someone 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
- A parent or guardian accompanying a child in hospital
- In situations when someone is receiving information about life-changing illness or treatments.
- In similar situations where support from another person is essential for advocacy and wellbeing, family support should be facilitated.
Evelyn Frame, Chief Midwife said: “we understand that support from birthing partners has a positive impact on a woman’s experience so making this decision has been very difficult but, as this variant seems to be more transmissible, our priority has to be keeping our women and staff as safe as possible.
“For our inpatient areas we encourage a person-centred, flexible visiting approach and within ante-natal and post-natal visiting continues but only the birthing partner will be allowed.
“No other visitors will be allowed including siblings. During labour and birth only one birthing partner will also be allowed to stay throughout the whole labour experience.”
Ms Frame added: “In our outpatient areas – anyone coming for a scan, early pregnancy or day care, or perhaps an outpatient appointment with one of our physiotherapist, dietician, midwife or obstetrician there is no change and you can bring your birthing partner for the duration of your appointment.
“Anyone with questions about visiting arrangements should speak to their midwife.”
Angela O’Neil Deputy Nurse Director said: “We recognise how difficult it is for families being apart, especially when their loved one is unwell.
“Where possible ward staff will continue to support patients to maintain contact with those closest to them however due to the extreme pressures staff are under if may not be possible to give an exact time or day when a video call or telephone call can be guaranteed.
“We are sorry for any distress this may cause and of course, staff will always try to facilitate these calls where possible, however we ask for your understanding while we try to manage under very challenging circumstances.”
Further information on arranging a virtual visit can be found on the NHSGGC Webpages