Coronavirus / Access restricted to maternity department due to coronavirus outbreak

Changes are also in place for community nursing services

Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

CHANGES have been made to access to the maternity department at the Gilbert Bain Hospital as a result of the coronavirus crisis – including encouraging new mothers to go home six hours after the birth of their baby if they are both well.

The maternity unit said “this is safe to do so and in some cases may be the best option”.


One birth partner is allowed in maternity to support the woman through labour, but they are asked to only stay until six hours after the birth.

Birth partners who have any symptoms of Covid-19 will not be permitted into hospital, although an alternative partner can go instead.

Partners are also not permitted to attend any antenatal appointments, including all ultrasound scans.

“There is growing concern from women who think they are going to have to give birth alone without their birth partner,” the maternity unit said in a Facebook post.


“This is not the case. When women are in early labour they are encouraged to stay at home (which is the advice we give even outwith the Covid-19 outbreak). When in active labour one birth partner is allowed to accompany you.”

“We understand that this may not have been what you were anticipating your experience in maternity to be like, however given the current circumstances these are necessary precautions which must be taken,” the unit added.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

NHS Shetland has also made a number of changes to its community nursing services as a result of social distancing guidelines.


The district nursing service started a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week shift service on Monday (30 March).

People who need to access the service can do so through health centres during normal working hours (9am-5pm Monday to Friday) and out-of-hours by contacting NHS24 on 111.

The district nursing service also supports individuals and carers in care centre setting as well as some resident at home. Some practice nurses have joined the district nursing service to help support the provision of a 24/7 shift-based nursing in the home setting service at this time.

A reduced practice nursing service is in place. Telephone triage and some appointments will be available at all practices but this will be more limited than normal. The practice nursing service will continue to provide:

  • Immunisations (childhood and adult)
  • Depot injections for mental health patients
  • Dressings
  • B12 injections
  • Prostap injection
  • Nebido
  • Decapeptyl injections
  • Warfarin monitoring
  • Lithium monitoring
  • DMARD monitoring
  • Biologics & pre-chemotherapy blood sampling (as requested)

Routine appointments, like annual reviews of long-term conditions, have all been postponed. Anyone with a long-term condition who becomes unwell during this time should contact their health centre and appropriate arrangements will be made for their follow-up.

The national cervical cytology programme is currently suspended and therefore no new smear tests will be carried out at this time. If you are unsure as to whether your pre-booked appointment will still proceed please contact your health centre.

The travel health assessment service is suspended, possibly until August, while the intermediate care team is working as normal.