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Rampant sickness bug strikes Princess Royal in Farnborough

Princess Royal

Princess Royal

Archant

A 'major' outbreak of a vomitting virus has struck the borough's hospital at the busiest time of year, closing 10 wards and restricting staff movements.

Residents are being urged to make only ‘essential’ visits to the Princess Royal in Farnborough after the sickness and diarrhoea bug erupted in the last few days.

More than 50 cases have been reported and hospital staff are desperately trying to contain the highly contagious Norovirus which is transferred through food or person to person contact.

It means that after Sidcup’s Queen Mary’s A&E closed ‘temporarily’ last month, more than a million people in the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich will have just one virus-free emergency unit between them - the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Woolwich.

The general medical wards at Farnborough were closed to new admissions on Tuesday in a bid to curb the infection.

“Staff have also been hit by the bug. When asked if it was causing staff shortages, a hospital spokesperson said: “Not yet, but it could do.”

Consultants who work between the three South London Healthcare sites at the PRUH, Queen Mary’s and Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich are having their movement restricted “as far as possible” but this is not achievable in emergencies.

A switchboard message at the PRUH tells callers: “South London Healthcare Trust is experiencing a major outbreak of norovirus at the PRUH site. The Trust is restricting visiting to essential visits only and no more than two at a time.”

Symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea but in some cases a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs can last for 12 to 60 hours, but most people recover within two days.

Health campaigner John Hemming-Clark, said: “This is complete madness and is exacerbated by the disastrous decision to close Queen Mary’s A&E, maternity and other units.

“Rather than send staff from Queen Mary’s into an infected hospital, Queen Mary’s A&E should be reopened immediately with staff from the PRUH transferred to Queen Mary’s where the virus isn’t present.

“This is an emergency. The A&E was stripped of its equipment and fixtures and fittings in 24 hours, so it is perfectly possible to reinstate it in the same amount of time.”

A Trust spokesperson said: “The Princess Royal Hospital is currently experiencing an increased number of patients with norovirus infection.

“Since last week, there have been approximately 50 cases identified. Infection prevention and control procedures are being reinforced to ensure that this doesn’t spread to other patients.

“Please only visit the hospital if it’s essential and we are restricting visitors to the Princess Royal to two per patient and members of the public who have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the previous three days must not attend the hospital either as a visitor or patient.”

For more advice contact NHS Direct 0845 4647 or speak to a pharmacist.

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