Visiting in Fife’s hospitals will shortly return to one visitor per patient after a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
Restrictions on hospital visiting were eased in May 2022 due to lowered rates of COVID-19 transmission in Fife’s communities and fewer people requiring hospital treatment after contracting the virus.
From Wednesday 29 June 2022, visiting will reduce from two visitors per day to a single visitor to help reduce instances of COVID-19 being brought into the Kingdom’s hospitals.
Essential visiting continues to be applied in wards or areas where patients are being treated whilst positive for COVID-19 – this includes where a patient is receiving end of life care, or to support someone with a mental health issue, learning disability, autism, or dementia where not being present would likely cause the patient to become distressed.
In recent weeks there have been a growing number of patients requiring hospital care due to COVID-19. Increasingly, patients are being admitted due to other conditions and are being found to be positive for COVID after testing during the admission process.
There has also been a marked increase in the numbers of patients contracting the virus whilst in hospital, leading to ward closures due to localised clusters of the virus within individual bays and in some cases whole wards. This not only puts already vulnerable patients at greater risk, but it also results in fewer beds being available for patients requiring inpatient care.
All visiting arrangements continue to be kept under regular review in line with COVID-19 infection rates and hospital capacity. With the rapidly evolving situation, potential visitors are reminded to contact the ward or check the NHS Fife website for the latest visiting information before they travel to check the arrangements in place for each ward.
Associate Director of Nursing, Nicola Robertson, said:
“We really recognise the benefits of visiting for both our patients and their relatives, and throughout the COVID pandemic we have continually tried to make hospital visiting as accessible as possible. With the sharp rise in the numbers of people being admitted with COVID-19, and with staff and patients contracting the virus, it is vital that we take proportionate action now to reduce the opportunity for the virus to be brought into hospitals.
“By reducing the numbers of visitors coming into our hospital now, we hope to see fewer staff and vulnerable patients contract the virus and lessen the chances of us having to reintroduce the more stringent visiting restrictions in place previously.
“Visitors coming into our hospital, whether coming to see loved ones or for their own appointment, have a crucial role to play in helping to reduce the opportunity for COVID to brought into our hospitals. That means doing a lateral flow COVID test before visiting, and following the other infection prevention measures to help minimise transmission of the virus.”
Strict hygiene measures remain in place to limit the risk of the virus spreading within hospitals. These include visitors being prevented from bringing presents such as flowers, food parcels or balloons into the hospital.
All visitors should regularly apply hand sanitiser and must continue to always wear a fluid resistant surgical face mask, which are available free-of-charge at hospital entrances.
Importantly, visitors must not attend if they have recently had sickness or diarrhoea, or any cold and flu symptoms, regardless of whether they test negative for COVID-19.
Home COVID test kits remain free-of-charge for those visiting hospitals. Information on how to order test kits is available at: www.nhsfife.org/testing.