Patient visiting times cut in north-east hospitals

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In an effort to prevent the spread of infection, plans have been made to cut visiting times at hospitals across the north-east of Scotland.

The plan follows the success of a pilot scheme at four wards at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI).  In May last year, NHS Grampian reduced visiting times at four wards at ARI after cleanliness standards were slated by a Healthcare Environment Inspectorate report.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “The pilots ran for a month where visiting times were restricted to 2-4pm and 6:30-8pm.”  During the pilot scheme visitor numbers during visiting times remained largely the same as before the trial, however visitor numbers outside those times fell – reducing footfall helping to prevent the spread of infection and ensuring protected meal times were respected.

Currently, visiting times are set from 2:30pm to 5:00pm and from 6:30pm to 8:00pm – only as a general guide for visitors – in practice visitors generally come and go as they wish.  Now, NHS Grampian says that hospital ward managers throughout the region have been given permission, at the discretion of individual ward managers, to reduce visiting times at patient bedsides.

However, chief executive of the Scotland Patients Association, Dr Jean Turner, is not convinced the scheme has any real value: “It is important the sick people get to see their relatives because it helps them get better. I doubt this is going to cut infection.”