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NHS leaders call on patients with norovirus to stay away from hospital

The local NHS in Scarborough and Ryedale is calling on residents and communities for help to prevent the spread of norovirus.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has taken the unusual step of restricting visiting to York Hospital “for the safety of patients and staff” after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug and the closure of wards.

Norovirus is also affecting several wards at Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals, with people urged to think twice before visiting loved ones.

Anyone who thinks they may have flu or norovirus is advised not to visit a GP surgery, but to stay at home and call NHS 111 for advice if necessary.

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG Associate Chair, Dr Peter Billingsley, said: “When we have loved ones who are poorly and in hospital, it’s natural we want to be with them, even if we’re feeling under the weather ourselves. However, norovirus is particularly contagious and the risk of passing these infections on to the person you are visiting in hospital who may already be quite ill – as well as other sick people and hospital staff – is extremely high.”

Beverley Geary, Chief Nurse at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Over the past few weeks we have experienced a high level of norovirus at York Hospital which has resulted in the closure of wards in order to stop the spread, which means we have reduced bed capacity. Closing wards can help to contain the virus but visitors play a huge part in preventing the continued spread of the infection.

“The safety of our patients is our top priority. While we recognise the importance of having people visit when you are in hospital, we now need to introduce these measures in order to protect our patients, as well as keeping our staff safe, well and able to come into work.”

Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. Like the flu, it spreads rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or by consuming contaminated food or water.

Typical symptoms of a norovirus infection include the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people also experience headaches, mild temperature and stomach cramps.

There is no treatment for norovirus but it is important people who have the winter vomiting bug keep hydrated to combat the loss of fluids. People with norovirus will recover in a day or two, but will remain infectious for up to three days after recovery.

There are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of spreading norovirus:-

  • Thorough hand washing – wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry
  • Don’t prepare food while infected
  • Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces after episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Wash clothes and bed linen that may be contaminated thoroughly
  • Drink plenty of fluids – stay away from caffeine and pay particular attention to the young and elderly for signs of dehydration

For more information please visit www.nhs.uk/norovirus

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