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NHS Lanarkshire restricts visiting over abuse of maternity staff

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One of Scotland's largest health boards has restricted visits to a maternity unit over the "almost daily" verbal abuse directed at staff.

NHS Lanarkshire said employees in the post natal wards at University Hospital Wishaw had been targeted.

And in one incident staff were "chased out" of a ward by family members unwilling to leave.

As a result the board has introduced a change to its policy for second visitor nominations.

Those who wish to visit a patient will now be required to make a two-hour appointment in advance.

Earlier this year medical staff warned the levels of abuse directed at them was worse than ever before.

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In a video posted on Facebook on Monday the board's chief midwife stressed the situation had not improved.

Cheryl Clark said: "Over the past few months, a number of our staff – particularly in scan and post natal ward – have been subject to abuse by families and visitors accessing our services.

"Whilst this settled for a period of time, over the last few weeks it has certainly risen again and it's now at the stage where it's almost daily that our staff are being subject to verbal abuse.

"In fact, some of our staff have been chased out the wards and been subject to a torrent of vile language."

Systems were put in place to limit the abuse, Ms Clark said, but these did not have the required effect.

She added: "It is with a heavy heart and deep regret that we have to pull back the second visitor in order to keep our families, our babies, our mums, our staff safe."

University Hospital WishawNHS Lanarkshire

Ms Clark went on to make a plea to visitors.

She concluded: "I know how difficult the last few years have been and we are aiming to get back to a person-centred visiting approach, but please be kind – please be compassionate and please be patient with us too."

Last month NHS Lanarkshire warned its three hospitals were operating "beyond critical occupancy levels" due to staff and bed shortages.

The health board confirmed University hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw were all at maximum capacity.

It meant a return to the "highest risk level" for the first time since October last year.

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