Coronavirus / Health board defends infection control measures after patient raises concern

Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

NHS SHETLAND has strongly defended its Covid-19 infection control measures at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

Shetland News spoke to a woman who said that as a clinically vulnerable patient she had not been aware of any additional protections in place for her as she shared a four-bed unit during a recent five night stay at the Gilbert Bain.


She also said it was her experience that many visitors to the hospital were not wearing face masks, while she claimed there was not any evidence of “enhanced cleaning”.

The patient said she preferred to stay anonymous at this time, as she wanted to take up the issue directly with NHS Shetland.

Responding to the points raised by the patient, director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan said patients with a weakened immune system would be admitted to a single room.

She added: “Patients with a weakened immune system may require protective isolation, where the nursing staff and wider team will use heightened infection control precautions and limit the number of people coming into the patient’s room.”


Carolan continued saying that there was a “strong staff culture” at the health board of “encouraging visitors and patients to wear masks” when entering the hospital to help reduce the spread of Covid.

NHS Shetland director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan
NHS Shetland’s director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan,

“There is clear signage at all entrances of the hospital with masks and hand sanitiser dispensers,” she said, adding that most people are happy to be prompted to wear a mask if they are not exempt.

Carolan added that she was not aware of any instances where hospital staff have asked a visitor to leave because they are not wearing a face mask.


“Visiting is an essential part of patient care and we have always balanced the risks of closing the ward to visitors and the infection control requirements throughout the pandemic,” she said.

“All patients admitted to hospital continue to be [subject of] screening for Covid using a PCR test. We encourage all visitors to also undertake a lateral flow test before visiting.

“Our infection control nurses undertake regular audits of the ward environment and they have observed that there are very high standards of cleaning on the wards including single rooms and bays.”

The director for nursing and acute services said she would encourage any patients with concerns regarding infection control precautions to write to her at shet.information@nhs.scot

Meanwhile guidelines for visiting a patient at the Gilbert Bain Hospital are available at the NHS Shetland website.

It states: “We continue to have high levels of COVID 19 prevalence in our community (Spring 2022) and in order to help the healthcare team support people in Hospital our current visiting arrangements are as follows:

  • Patients can agree to have two visitors from any household, visiting them at the same time;
  • Patients can have multiple visits per day from different visitors;
  • In order to ensure that the clinical areas do not become overcrowded we ask that visitors continue to phone ahead and check with the nurse in charge of the ward before visiting;
  • Visitors will continue to be asked to provide their contact details so we ask that you report to the person in charge on your arrival so they can be recorded;
  • Current requirements around wearing face coverings, hand washing or the use of alcohol-based hand rub, will remain in place;
  • We ask that you maintain physical distancing where possible;
  • We encourage visitors to take a lateral flow test before a visit to see someone in Hospital. Test kits have been made widely available in the community but they are also held on the ward if you need access to a lateral flow tests”.

Lateral flow tests for visiting hospitals or care homes can be ordered online.