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.
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.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

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.

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.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. Visit https://www.u2swisshome.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director