People are being urged to only visit A&E if it is absolutely necessary as medics continue to battle the Norovirus outbreak.
Two wards remain closed at Bedford Hospital in an attempt to control the spread of the winter vomiting bug.
It means that there is ‘significant bed pressures’ at the hospital due to a combination of the ward closures and the continued high demand, particularly from emergency admissions.
This has in turn resulted in longer waiting times at A&E and the hospital has had to cancel some routine operations in a bid to free up beds for urgent cases.
People are being asked to help prevent the spread of norovirus by only attending A&E if their condition is serious or life-threatening and cannot be dealt with by a GP, pharmacist or walk in centre.
Anyone who has suffered diarrhoea or vomiting within the last 48 hours are asked to stay away from the hospital, unless it is an emergency, and instead to call their GP.
All staff, visitors and patients entering and leaving hospital wards are being asked to wash their hands with soap and water to help prevent the spread of the virus as alcohol gel does not kill the bug.
Those visit patients are requested to phone in advance to check on any visiting restrictions and not to visit a patient without speaking with the nurse in charge. Visiting on the affected wards - Arnold Whitchurch and Whitbread - are restricted to one visitor per patient for a maximum or one hour.
Chief operating officer Eileen Doyle said: “Demand for our services continues to remain high; however the situation has been exacerbated by having a number of our wards closed due to Norovirus for a sustained period of time.
“We are now experiencing periods when the number of patients being admitted outweighs the number of patients we are able to discharge. We are doing all that we can to manage this pressure safely, including working with our partners to care for patients in their homes and supporting patients to be discharged as soon as they are ready to leave.
“We don’t take the decision to cancel operations lightly; however, we are dealing with exceptionally high demand and must ensure the safe delivery of our services.
“I would like to apologise sincerely to all patients who have been affected; we will work to reschedule operations as soon as possible.”
For further information, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/Norovirus
We are now experiencing periods when the number of patients being admitted outweighs the number of patients we are able to discharge.Chief operating officer Eileen Doyle