Visitors to covid-hit Edinburgh oncology ward did not have temperatures checked

Visitors to a cancer ward at an Edinburgh hospital which was forced to close due to a deadly outbreak of Coronavirus did not have their temperatures checked before coming into contact with patients, it has emerged.

Saturday, 10th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 10th October 2020, 9:09 pm
Visitors to the Western General oncology ward do not get their temperature checked on arrival.

People who had been to the onocology ward at the Western General Hospital claimed that they saw other visitors not wearing masks on the ward.

It emerged yesterday that the ward had been forced to close after a “small number” of patients – fewer than five - are understood to have died since taking ill. A further six have been infected with the virus.

It is NHS Lothian policy that temperature checks are not carried out on people visiting the ward, although any inpatients or those being admitted to hospital are screened as part of general observations on arrival.

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Temperature checks are now standard at many public buildings across Scotland, including some leisure centres and gyms, hairdressers, restaurants and many offices.

Visitors to the hospital are told they should wear masks, with disposable face coverings made available to anyone who does not have their own, although it is believed that it is up to individual ward staff as to whether the policy is enforced.

The health board has confirmed the oncology ward has been closed to new admissions and discharges while investigations are conducted and to allow tests to be carried out, while contact tracing for visitors and outpatients is also being done.

NHS Lothian also said a multi-disciplinary Incident Management Team has been set up with a series of robust and enhanced infection control measures put in place in the ward.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said that NHS wards should follow “best practice”.

A spokesman said: “We would expect all NHS wards to follow best practice and perform the appropriate screening measures.”

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson yesterday called for effective ‘backtracing’ to pin down the source of the outbreak.

She said: “It seems as if, as soon as this outbreak was confirmed, staff have moved quickly to get an incident management team in place and this should be recognised.

“Normally, if someone gets Covid they will test and trace and speak to everyone that’s then spoken to that person but they will need to back trace here to see who these people spoke to before. I hope they are able to pin down the source of it and if there are any protocols in place to diminish that risk. It may be that there are some protocols needed if we can find out how it happened.”

NHS Lothian refused to comment.

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