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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Visiting Hospital and Care Homes over the Festive Period

Visiting arrangements for hospitals and care homes in Scotland will remain in place over the Christmas and New Year period, it has been confirmed. For the general public, there will be UK-wide easing of restrictions on travel and gathering between 23 – 27 December. However, in a joint-letter to NHS Boards, the interim Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and National Clinical Director clarified this would not apply to hospitals over the Christmas period, given the increased vulnerability of hospital patients compared to the general population. Christmas and New Year guidance has also been published for the adult care home sector, recommending that indoor visiting should continue to be supported where it is safe to do so, as well as setting out specific safeguards that care homes can put in place to safely support festive activities. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP said: “While most people will see a limited relaxation of existing restrictions over the holiday period, hospital and care home visiting guidance will remain in place to protect patients and residents. “However, we are encouraging Boards and care homes to continue to apply this guidance with flexibility and compassion, given how important the Christmas and New Year period is for many families, to ensure no-one is unnecessarily isolated over the Christmas period. Essential visits should also continue regardless of local restrictions, as they have throughout the pandemic. “In care homes this will be facilitated by testing of designated visitors, which will be rolled out to all care homes from Monday onwards. Testing is not required for visiting but it does add an additional layer of protection, and we will make PCR testing available for any care homes unable to make use of lateral flow tests before Christmas.” Kenneth Gibson MSP said: “Those who live in care homes tend to be the most vulnerable and we must do whatever we can to protect them from contracting coronavirus. “This is why the SNP Government has started vaccination amongst them first and the rules cannot be relaxed over Christmas, or New Year. “With my own mother in a care home, I understand what it’s like for families who worry about their loved one being socially isolated, but I also know that staff are bending over backwards to make sure care home residents receive the care that not only physically, but mentally helps them through this.” Coronavirus (COVID-19): hospital visiting guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): adult care homes guidance Visiting in care homes is subject to care homes being free of any COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days, actively participating in the care home testing programme and having visiting risk assessments approved by the local Director of Public Health. ENDS


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