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Vomiting bug leads to ban on hospital visitors

PUBLISHED: 16:55 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 10:03 12 August 2010

VISITORS have been banned from seeing their sick relatives because of a virus outbreak which has affected over 500,000 people nationally. South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) is constantly reviewing their strategy for containing the norovirus bug which

VISITORS have been banned from seeing their sick relatives because of a virus outbreak which has affected over 500,000 people nationally.

South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) is constantly reviewing their strategy for containing the norovirus bug which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, but at the time of going to press had requested a 72-hour ban on visits at some wards at all three of its sites.

Six wards at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS), three wards at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), Farnborough and one at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Woolwich, have been affected.

A spokesperson for SLHT, said: "South London Healthcare is restricting all non-essential visits to medical wards for an initial period of 72 hours.

"Exceptions to this rule will be made in the cases of acutely unwell patients and will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge and or the medical team.

"This was clearly a difficult decision, made following a meeting of the Norovirus Review Panel at South London Healthcare, but is an indicator of the serious need to take further action.

"Services are under considerable strain from the knock-on effect of the outbreak. Limiting visitors to the hospital is considered the next necessary measure to help minimise cases."

The affected wards at QMS are Mottingham, Ellingworth, Brook, Avery Hill and Chislehurst, while staff are looking to re-open Gillies ward today.

Meanwhile the stroke unit and wards M7 and M8 at the PRUH and ward two at QEH are also closed to visitors.

On Tuesday six wards at QMS and one at the PRUH stopped admitting patients to curb contamination. No wards at QEH have been closed.

A spokesperson added: "Because norovirus spreads so easily, those with diarrhoea and vomiting should avoid contact with others if possible for two days after symptoms have stopped.

"Personal hygiene must also be good so make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating and after going to the toilet."

Professor of microbiology at Aberdeen University Hugh Pennington added: "It does seem a very bad year. For most people it's a short illness that lasts for two to four days.

"Although it's very unpleasant, the vast majority will get better without any treatment. The worry is for the elderly and those with pre-existing health problems."

The Trust is updating the information on its website several times a day. For more information see www.slh.nhs.uk or www.hpa.org.uk.

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