Tackling and controlling the spread of Norovirus through the winter months was the aim of a workshop held at East Surrey Hospital this week (25 Sept).
Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, invited community health partners to join them as they undertake a proactive approach to tackling the illness, commonly known as the winter vomiting disease.
The Trust’s Infection Control Team was joined by representatives from nursing and care homes, the ambulance service, Public Health England and local NHS trust’s.
The group looked at ways of avoiding hospital admissions for people with this highly infectious virus, patient transport and the control of the illness in care and nursing homes.
Ashley Flores, Lead Nurse for Infection Control, said: “Our priority is protecting our patients from Norovirus by, where possible, avoiding admitting people with it and by controlling the spread within the hospital. Restricting visitors is just one way of helping us to do this. This is never undertaken lightly but it plays a crucial role in helping us keep our patients safe.”
The gold standard for the management of norovirus is hand washing with soap and water. Alcohol rubs alone are not effective against the virus.
‘Virtual’ nurses are also used at the entrance to the hospital to highlight the importance of good hand hygiene to patients and visitors.
Details of any visiting restrictions are displayed on the Trust’s website and on the hospital’s answerphone system.
The stomach bug that is often prevalent in the community at this time of year, causes vomiting and/or diarrhoea and effects between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK each year.
There is not a specific cure and because it is highly contagious anyone suffering from it should stay at home. You might continue to be infectious for a short period after symptoms stop so should avoid direct contact with other people for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have gone. It is extremely important that you do not visit the hospital for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have gone. However do call your GP to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.
Next month the Trust is running an ‘Infection Control Week’. This will also focus on good hand hygiene and cleanliness and make all staff aware of the ‘Golden Rules for norovirus’ cards, as part of the strategy to control the disease.