Family and friends will be able to visit patients at hospital at times which are convenient to them.
NHS Tayside is one of five health boards to sign up to the pilot, with five wards trialling extended visiting hours of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
The initiative is the first in a series of programmes to be implemented as part of Health Secretary Alex Neil’s plans to make the NHS more ‘user-friendly’.
It is based on feedback received as part of Mr Neil’s ‘back to the floor’ visits to hospitals across Scotland, and aims to give patients what they want from their NHS.
Speaking as he visited ward four in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, Mr Neil said: “This visiting times pilot is the first step towards making our NHS more ‘user friendly’ and giving patients what they want.
“By making visiting hours fit better with modern day working patterns, it will be easier for family and friends to visit patients, which in many cases will help to speed up recovery, as support from family and friends is a crucial part of the healing process.
“It will also take some of the pressure off staff, as visitors will be spread out more throughout the day, rather than being restricted to a couple of hours.
“Over the past few months I have been speaking to patients and staff across the country to get a better idea for how they want their NHS to run. I want to use this feedback to improve the NHS and make it more user friendly. You own the NHS and you should get your say in how you are treated when you are in hospital.”
Visitors to five wards in Ninewells Hospital can now see patients during nine hours of each day, compared to the previous visiting times of 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The trial is running in a number of wards including care of the elderly, acute surgical receiving unit and a neurosurgery ward for three months. It will then be assessed and NHS Tayside hopes to extend the pilot to other areas within the hospital. Visiting times in NHS Tayside are already flexible in some areas, including paediatrics, maternity, critical care and coronary care. Five health boards are participating in the pilot, and each health board will specify their own arrangements.