Hospital patients in the Western Isles will get to see their loved ones during the festive period, despite in-person visiting restrictions, thanks to the rollout of iPads.

NHS Western Isles has received 20 new tablets from Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) to facilitate virtual visits for inpatients.

Each iPad has access to the health board’s virtual visiting platform for ease of use.

This comes as it is announced that restricted indoor visiting arrangements will continue in all hospitals in the Western Isles due to a surge in Omicron cases across Scotland.

The decision was taken by the health board to help protect its “fragile” services and to prevent the risk of transmission to hospital patients and staff

The measures apply to Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, Uist and Barra Hospital in Benbecula and St Brendan’s Hospital in Barra.   

Gordon Jamieson, NHS Western Isles chief executive, 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 identified in Western Isles Hospital, which has led to restricted admissions in one of our Medical Wards.   

“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 continue to keep the situation under constant review and will update the community as required. We appreciate your understanding in this important safety measure.”    

He added: “We do encourage patients to make use of the option of the virtual visiting service at this time, and our staff are discussing and considering with patients and families where either window or outdoor visits would be an appropriate option for them.” 

A virtual visiting appointment can be set up by contacting the hospital reception on 01851 704704.