Essential visits include a birth partner to support pregnant women during hospital visits, scans, during and after labour, visits from both parents to support a baby or child in hospital and visits to support a person receiving end-of-life care – to ensure they are able to spend meaningful time with their loved ones in their final days, weeks or months.
People are also allowed to visit those with a mental health condition such as dementia, or a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed.
Visits in situations when someone is receiving information about a life-changing illness or treatment are also allowed as are visits where support from another person is essential for advocacy and well being.
NHS Forth Valley stated these new essential visiting arrangements will be applied flexibly and compassionately, with each patient’s needs being considered on an individual basis.
Those providing spiritual care are not considered visitors and will be able to continue to support patients in local hospitals.
Professor Angela Wallace, NHS Forth Valley director of nursing, said it had been a very difficult decision to take but was necessary to help protect local patients and staff given the current high levels of COVID-19 across Forth Valley and the rest of Central Scotland.
She added: “This difficult decision was taken following detailed discussions with our infection control, public health, clinical and nursing leads over the last week. We understand it will be very disappointing for local patients and families and we will keep these temporary visiting arrangements under regular review.
“We also recognise how important the support of local friends and family is to our patients and staff will do everything possible to help them stay in touch with loved ones through phone and video calls.”