THE LANARKSHIRE health board has announced to reintroduce essential visiting in response to the spreading Omicron variant.

Health bosses said staff will only allow visits to patients who would be distressed or suffer by not seeing a family member.

Staff will use their professional judgement to consider when visiting should be allowed.

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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.”