Infection chiefs make public appeal as virus hits Romford hospital
PUBLISHED: 11:55 22 November 2013 | UPDATED: 14:03 22 November 2013
The first cases of norovirus this winter have been recorded at Queen's Hospital - and now infection prevention and control chiefs are asking the public to help ensure that it doesn't spread.
Key points the trust is asking people to bear in mind are:
1.If you get symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea, do not come into hospital to see your friends or relatives. You may give the virus to them as well as other patients and staff. The virus continues to shed from you even after you feel better so leave at least two days after you have stopped feeling unwell before you consider coming into hospital as a visitor.
2. Bringing in food for relatives in hospital could lead to an outbreak, so please be very hygienic if you are preparing this food at home. It is safer to bring in pre-wrapped food from a recognised commercial source.
3. Hands must be washed when you get to our hospitals, and when you leave, at sinks on the wards. Alcohol gel is not effective against Norovirus, but it can be washed off the hands with soap and water.
4. Use the alcohol gel provided frequently, as this is effective against many other organisms. Dispensers are located throughout the hospitals.
The vomiting virus is highly contagious, and is brought into hospitals every year from the community.
Director of infection prevention and control Dr Ian Hosein is leading the work with staff at Queen’s and King George hospitals, reinforcing key practices including optimal hand hygiene.
He is also asking visitors to help keep the wards free of the bug.
“Norovirus is one of the most infectious agents that we face in the NHS,” he said, “and it causes significant disruption to the services hospitals can provide. The virus always begins with spread in the wider community and then it gets into hospitals.
“I am hoping that the public will get behind us and stop more cases coming on to the wards.”
A similar campaign last year was “incredibly successful”, a spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said.
She added: “We have seen a huge improvement in our A&E performance in recent weeks.
“But losing beds to the winter virus could affect that, and mean that people have to wait longer to be admitted to a ward.
“The number of bed days lost to the virus [last year] fell dramatically, with the hospitals needing to close far fewer beds and wards than normal.”