Four wards have been closed at Bedford Hospital following cases of Norovirus, affecting bed capacity across the trust.
Arnold Whitchurch Ward, the Coronary Care Unit, Harpur Ward and Whitbread Ward, have all been closed to new admissions and transfers, with another ward on high alert. It follows a rise in the number of cases reported in the community.
As part of the measures put in place to tackle the virus, those visiting patients have been requested to phone in advance to check on any visiting restrictions and not to visit a patient without speaking with the nurse in charge.
With ward closures affecting capacity across the hospital, members of the public are being asked to think very carefully before coming to A&E and to only attend if their condition is serious or life-threatening and cannot be seen by a GP or pharmacist. Anyone who has experienced symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting within the last 48 hours are being asked to stay away from the hospital, unless it is an emergency, and instead to call their GP.
Eileen Doyle, Chief Operating Officer at Bedford Hospital, said: “Norovirus is very unpleasant for our patients and so we do all that we can to help prevent it from entering our hospital.
“When we do experience cases we work hard to minimise its spread as much as possible by isolating affected patients, closing affected wards and in some cases restricting visiting.
“Closing wards at this busy time of year seriously impacts on our capacity, so we are doing all we can to reopen them as quickly as possible. People can help us by using other NHS services first, such as their pharmacy, GP, local walk-in centre or 111. Doing so will help us in our efforts to care for our most seriously ill patients and to tackle the Norovirus outbreak.”
All staff, visitors and patients entering and leaving our hospital wards are requested to wash their hands with soap and water to help prevent the spread of the virus (alcohol gel does not kill the virus).
Local GP and urgent care lead for Bedfordshire CCG, Dr Fran Ross, said: “Norovirus is highly contagious and there is nothing your GP or A&E doctors can do while you have it. Drink plenty of water and take paracetamol for any fever or aches and pains and take special care to prevent babies, small children and the elderly from dehydrating. Only ring your GP if you already have a serious illness or your symptoms last longer than a few days.”
Further information and advice on Norovirus can be found at www.nhs.uk