By Tim Clarke 16/02 Updated: 16/02 14:54
WORCESTERSHIRE Royal Hospital was facing a bed crisis today (Thursday) as the spread of the highly contagious winter vomiting and diarrhoea bug forced the full or partial closure of 12 wards.
A visiting ban was in place at the Worcester based hospital as health bosses battled to contain the spread of the norovirus, which has already caused a third of the hospital's 600 beds to be closed. All non-urgent elective operations were postponed and ambulances were diverted to other hospitals, with GPs being asked to manage people outside of hospital wherever possible. But outpatient appointments were continuing as normal as the Standard went to press.
One ward was also affected at the Alexandra Hospital, although no visiting ban is in force but residents are being asked not to visit unless necessary and to stay away if people have experienced symptoms of the bug within 48 hours.
A spokeswoman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the two hospitals, said the Alex was under 'significant pressure' due to the knock-on effects of the situation at the Worcestershire Royal. People are being urged not to visit A&E at the Woodrow Drive hospital unless absolutely unnecessary and to use other NHS services such as the GP out of hours service and minor injuries unit at the Princess of Wales Community Hospital in Bromsgrove.
Penny Venables, chief executive of WAHT, said: "While stringent infection prevention and control procedures are being implemented in all affected ward areas, it is very difficult to contain the spread of this extremely contagious illness.
"The situation is escalating and we are now having to increase the measures we are putting in place to ensure that the situation doesn’t worsen."
She said the Worcestershire Royal would consider exceptional requests from relatives with a particular need to visit a patient, but anyone wishing to do so needed to contact the matron or ward manager.
People displaying symptoms are advised to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet and avoid food preparation until 48 hours after symptoms have subsided.
Anyone whose condition continues to worsen should call their GP or NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. Visit www.worcsacute.nhs.uk for the latest norovirus updates.
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