A Dundee charity worker has hit out at hospital visiting rules preventing her seeing her terminally-ill father.
Mairi Handy, 45, is worried about being unable to support her father Joseph Handy in person, in his last hours.
She has been unable to see the 71-year-old since NHS Tayside introduced restrictions on visitors last month.
Hospital staff have told Mairi she will be invited to visit if they judge he is likely to pass away within 24 to 48 hours.
North East Labour MSP Jenny Marra has raised concerns about the visiting advice. She called on the health board to clarify their guidance for all families of the terminally ill.
“Given the unpredictability of this situation, and the risk that families might not get the chance to say goodbye, it would be helpful if NHS Tayside could clarify the guidance they are working to.”
Mairi said her father is recovering from bladder cancer surgery and is also suffering from delirium – an extreme form of confusion. He is not unwell with Covid-19.
She said her father has had palliative surgery to lessen the pain from his symptoms. He has reacted very positively to her many visits prior to the ban.
“There is a part of my dad still in there and he must be wondering what is going on and why no-one is coming to see him.
“It has been a struggle to get any comment from the ward on what is going on”.
‘It’s not enough and it’s not sufficient’
Mr Handy was too confused to follow what was happening during a recent online visit, Mairi said.
“It’s not enough and it’s not sufficient. His care has been excellent for his medical needs but my issue here is his social and emotional needs are being neglected.”
Stressing the “fantastic” medical care her father has received, she said she is not happy with the 24 to 48 hour timeframe and “no-one has a crystal ball” to predict her father’s condition.
“If you were to ask anybody, then I don’t think many people would think that was acceptable.
“Who determines that? I just didn’t think that was an appropriate way to deliver that. I do appreciate doctors have a difficult job just now.”
MSP ‘concerned’ for Dundee families
Ninewells managers initially closed wards after an outbreak of Covid-19 in parts of the hospital.
The health board announced the decision to continue restricting visiting in Ninewells, Stracathro and Perth Royal Infirmary on October 23, around a week before Dundee was placed in Tier 3 of restrictions.
Ms Marra said she is “concerned” after being contacted by Dundee families.
“Their loved ones are in an end of life situation in hospital but are unable to visit them until their final hours.
“Given the unpredictability of this situation and the risk families might not get the chance to say goodbye, it would be helpful if NHS Tayside could clarify the guidance they are working to… so families can have some comfort that they are most likely to be able to make that important visit.
“These are very difficult times. I am very grateful to NHS staff for the incredible job they are doing and the judgements they have to make.”
Restricting visiting ‘difficult’ for hospital staff
An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said the decision to restrict hospital visiting was “a very difficult decision for our clinical teams.”
“It is necessary in order to limit the spread of coronavirus and especially to protect our more vulnerable and frail patients.
“We understand that suspending visiting impacts on families and patients. We know that not being able to visit family members whilst they are in hospital is distressing for many people.
“Our ward staff are speaking with families every day and are continuously assessing the individual circumstances of each patient.
“This ensures decisions about visiting are as patient-centred and compassionate as possible. However our priority must be to keep our patients and staff safe.”
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