PATIENTS in Ayrshire hospitals will be able to see loved ones in person as preparations get underway to resume visiting after months of lockdown.

Visits have been suspended since March due to the outbreak of coronavirus, but NHS Ayrshire and Arran are set to open up wards again for visits.

The health board will move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the visiting guidance from Monday (July 13) with a new appointment system in place.

From next week one designated person (who is COVID-19 symptom free) can be chosen by a patient to visit them in hospital.

Visitors who are experiencing any symptoms have been urged not to come to hospital and follow government advice by self-isolating.

The appointment system will allow hospitals to accommodate a set number of visitors within wards, whilst observing the two metre social distancing rules.

Only visitors who have a pre-arranged visiting appointment will be allowed in to see patients.

To continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 visitors will have to wear a face covering at all times and are expected to observe hand hygiene guidance.

Visitors will also be asked to provide their contact details, and answer verbal health screening questions before being allowed to visit.

To protect patients who are particularly high risk, there will still be some areas where visiting remains restricted to essential visits only.

Nurse Director Hazel Borland said: “We are working hard to support people to see their loved ones in person again.

However, as people who are unwell in hospital are vulnerable and at a higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) we have to manage these visits carefully. This means it will be a different experience to visiting before the global pandemic.

“It is important for everyone coming in to our sites from next week to be aware that there will be restrictions, for example we are unable to offer visitor access to our dining rooms at this stage.

“I thank everyone for their patience and cooperation at this time and encourage anyone hoping to visit our hospitals from 13 July to read the local guidance in full.”