Date published: 19 December 2011
Visitors to hospitals across the North West are being asked for their help in tackling winter bugs, which can lead to hospital wards being unable to accept any new admissions, NHS staff going off sick and appointments being postponed.
Cases of diarrhoea and vomiting traditionally go up at this time of year. They are caused by two types of virus, Norovirus and Rotavirus. They cause unpleasant but short-lived symptoms for the majority of people, but can have a devastating effect if they get into a hospital.
A spokesperson for NHS North West said: “We know that these viruses are already circulating widely in the community – for example we have seen local schools affected.
“We are asking for the help of everyone visiting the hospital to keep the bugs out. If these bugs get into a hospital, they can make people who are already poorly seriously ill, particularly older people and those who have long term health conditions.
“These bugs can pass quickly between visitors, patients and staff. We have policies in place to de-contaminate ward areas, but these can take a few days to have an impact.
“Winter is always a busy time for us, and the last thing we need is staff off ill, beds unavailable and appointments being postponed. What’s more, we might have to restrict visiting, meaning patients could have a lonely time over Christmas and New Year.
“We need people to help us keep our services running as normal, and there are some really basic steps they can take. If you have been sick or had diarrhoea within the last 48 hours then please do not visit the hospital. Please do not bring children aged 12 years or younger into the hospital, as they often pick up these bugs at school. No more than two visitors for each patient at any one time. And please do not sit on beds when visiting patients, instead use the seats provided at bed side”.
Symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest. Advice is available from a high-street pharmacist, online from NHS Choices and from NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.