A SCOTTISH health board has eased restrictions that limited visitors to its hospitals.

NHS Lanarkshire had enforced rules allowing only essential visits earlier this year due to pressures on staff amid a surge in Covid-19 cases and staff absences.

From Sunday new rules will mean patients in all acute inpatient wards and units will be able to have one visitor per day with the option of that person changing each day.

But essential visiting rules will remain in ward areas or health settings where visits are difficult to accommodate due to Covid restrictions, social distancing, or in the case of an active coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: Where are the coronavirus cases today?

In these circumstances, the health board said staff will use their professional judgment on when a visit can take place.

Under the previous rule, the only visitors allowed to attend the trust’s sites were those for patients where not seeing a family member would “cause particular distress or suffering”.

NHS Lanarkshire nurse director Susan Friel said: “We have reviewed our essential visiting restrictions and are now in a position to be able to accommodate one visit a day with one visitor at each visit.

“We know that this will bring some comfort to our patients who may not have been able to see loved ones recently.

READ MORE: Scotland records 40 new Covid deaths with more than 2000 people in hospital

“This will provide those patients in hospital with the vital support they need from family, carers or friends.

“However, while the majority of our patients will be able to have visitors there are some restrictions which we need to maintain in areas where space is confined or we have an outbreak and patient safety is paramount.

“While visitors can now have close contact with their loved one, they are reminded to adhere to physical distancing in communal areas of the hospital, wear face coverings at all times and frequently wash their hands when entering and leaving clinical areas.”

Visiting will still be by appointment only and those who wish to visit will need to have a negative lateral flow test, with staff asking for confirmation from potential visitors before access to wards, the health board said.