NHS Western Isles has restricted visiting at all of its hospitals to protect against the spread of coronavirus.
From today, only essential visitors will be allowed into Stornoway, Uist and Barra hospital in Benbecula and St Brendan’s hospital on Barra.
People will be able to visit end of life patients, birth partners, children, or those with acute mental health issues and dementia.
Visitors are required to pre-book visiting slots and must be immediate family members.
Measures that have “reluctantly” been put in place by NHS Western Isles bosses are hoped to slow the spread of the new omicron variant of coronavirus.
It comes after rising case numbers across the country and a localised outbreak on the Isle of Lewis, which is believed to have been linked to a wedding.
Board recognises how “disappointing” restrictions are
Bosses on the region’s health board have said they appreciate how disappointing the restrictions will be for visitors in the run-up to Christmas.
But, how they are essential to keep the “fragile” healthcare system in the Western Isles running.
Under the new restrictions, visitors are being asked to use lateral flow devices on a daily basis.
Those with Covid symptoms are being told not to visit the hospital and arrange for a PCR test.
The hospital dining rooms have also been closed to the public.
Chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and follows both a predicted surge nationally in cases of Covid-19 and a small number of cases of Covid-19 now identified in Western Isles Hospital, which has led to restricted admissions.
“We appreciate how disappointing these restrictions will be for members of our community.
“However, safety, and being able to deliver services, is imperative, and we must protect our inpatients and staff, as well as our NHS services in the Western Isles.
“We will keep the situation under constant review and will update the community as required. We appreciate your understanding in this important safety measures.”