A health board has made the “difficult decision” to limit visitors for patients as pressure continues to mount on hospitals due to coronavirus.
NHS Lanarkshire, which remains at the highest black alert level, said visits will only be allowed for patients “who would be distressed or suffer by not seeing a family member”.
The health board added that staff will use “professional judgement” when considering when visiting is allowed.
The decision was put in place to reduce the risk of Omicron being passed on to patients and staff in hospitals and will be monitored daily.
It comes days after GPs in the area were told to focus on the most urgent and time-critical cases, with patients urged to instead make use of local pharmacies, the NHS Inform website and NHS24 to ease the strain on the health board.
NHS Lanarkshire nurse director Susan Friel said: “We understand that patients in hospital are having a challenging time and want to have their family and friends around them for support.
“Unfortunately, it is our priority to protect our patients and staff as much as is possible and this is why we have made the difficult decision to limit visiting at this time.
“However, this is being reviewed daily and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will be expanding visiting by prioritising access for those closest to the patient.
“We recognise that essential visits, which only permit visits to patients where not seeing a family member would cause particular distress or suffering, is not ideal but necessary for the time being.
“Anyone with questions about visiting arrangements should speak to the nurse in charge of the ward.
“We would also strongly encourage all essential visitors to carry out a lateral flow test prior to visiting their loved one. Information on how to obtain a lateral flow test and how to take the test is available by visiting NHS Inform.
“We hope everyone will understand that this decision has been made in the best interests of patients, other visitors and our staff.”