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Avoid the spread of Norovirus this Christmas by seeking an alternative to A&E

Avoid the spread of Norovirus this Christmas by seeking an alternative to A&E

Press release – 22 December 2016

Local residents are being urged to self-care at home or use NHS alternatives if they fall ill this festive period to prevent the spread of illnesses to patients receiving treatment in hospital.

Residents are asked to only attend Hereford County Hospital’s A&E department for serious injuries or illnesses.

Christmas is an extremely busy time of year for the NHS. It is also the time of year when there are many minor illnesses, such as colds, flu and stomach upsets like Norovirus, circulating in the community. Although these can safely be treated at home for most people, they can be very serious and even life threatening for patients in hospital or people with long term conditions.

One ward at Hereford County Hospital is currently closed to visitors due to cases of diarrhoea and vomiting and confirmed cases of Norovirus.

Sarah Hardy, Lead infection prevention nurse at WVT, said: “We understand the importance of visits from family and friends for patients who are staying in hospital.  However, if anyone has symptoms of sickness and/or diarrhoea - we would ask them not to visit relatives until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. If you have these symptoms and have a hospital appointment, please contact the department and arrange another appointment after you have recovered. Viral gastroenteritis is a highly contagious virus circulating in the general population currently and will affect patients and staff alike. We have had to close the Gilwern unit due to a confirmed case of Norovirus this week. ” 

As a precaution visitors are asked to bring in only fruit in skins such as oranges and bananas and avoid items such as apples and grapes.

This kind of outbreak comes from within the community and is often seen this time of year. Experience has shown that restricting visiting can lessen the chance of spread to both patients and visitors and other areas of the hospital. 

There are some simple steps that the public can take to help stop a norovirus spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food. If you’re in an NHS facility pay attention to hand hygiene notices such as using hand gel upon entering and leaving a ward.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with a norovirus. It is best to use a bleach-based household cleaner. Always follow the instructions on the cleaning product.
  • Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet. You should also keep the surrounding toilet area clean and hygienic.
  • Wash any clothing, or linens, which could have become contaminated with a norovirus. Washing with hot, soapy water will help to ensure that the virus is killed.

Although people usually recover without treatment in 24-72 hours, it is important to stay away from work, school, college or any social gatherings until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

Dr Ian Tait, GP, Chair and Clinical Lead from Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Christmas is an important time for friends and families, and the last thing anybody wants is to be poorly. For most minor ailments and illnesses the best remedy is to get plenty of rest, keep warm, stay well hydrated and eat warm foods and to practice good hygiene. We are advising everyone to keep their medicine cabinet well-stocked with things like pain relief, cough medicine and a thermometer is always handy. Always read the label on your medicines.” 

“If you do become ill over the Christmas holidays and you are unsure what to do, call NHS 111. Their trained advisors will direct you to the most appropriate care and they can book an appointment with a GP or specialist if you need one.”

NHS Alternatives:

  • Local pharmacist - can give advice on medicines and for treating common illnesses.
  • Visit your GP - for medical advice, examinations or an illness or injury that requires a prescription
  • NHS 111 - Call NHS 111 if you need urgent medical help or advice, but it’s not a life-threatening emergency. 111 is also the easiest way to access the GP out-of-hours service
  • NHS walk-in centre - for treating minor illnesses and injuries that do not require an emergency department visit and without needing an appointment. The walk in centre, Belmont Road Hereford,  is open every day, 8am until 8pm
  • Visit a minor injury unit for treatment of cuts, grazes, bites, stings sprains, strains, minor eye infections/foreign bodies and minor burns. The local Minor injury units are located at;
    • Ross Community Hospital - open 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday only
    • Leominster Community Hospital - open 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday only
    • Ledbury Community Health and Care Centre - open 24/7, excluding public/bank holidays
    • Kington Health and Social Care Centre - open 8am to 8pm, excluding public/bank holidays



Notes to Editors:

  • Wye Valley NHS Trust is the provider health services across Herefordshire and beyond. The Trust exists to improve the wellbeing, independence and health of the people we serve. We are the leading provider of health care in Herefordshire.
  • By working closely with our partners, we can make good our promise to deliver a quality of care we would want for ourselves, our families and our friends.
  • With an estimated annual turnover of around £160 million, we employ around 2,700 plus staff. We aim to build new relationships between our staff, patients, service users and their carers with the wider community.For further information please contact:

For further information please contact:
John Burnett, Communication and Engagement Manager, Wye Valley NHS Trust: 01432 372928 or Amanda Millichip, Communications Officer 01432 355444  ext. 5105.

Contact Details

John Burnett
Communication and engagement manager
Tel: 01432 372928
Email: John.Burnett@wvt.nhs.uk

Amanda Millichip
Communications officer
Tel: 01432 355444 Ext: 5105
Email: Amanda.Millichip@wvt.nhs.uk

Fiona Gurney
Communications officer
Tel: 01432 355444 Ext: 5105
Email:  Fiona.gurney@wvt.nhs.uk


Postal address:

Wye Valley NHS Trust
The County Hospital
Trust Headquarters
Union Walk

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