Visitors allowed back onto hospital wards

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VISITING restrictions on wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary have been relaxed after the effects of a winter vomiting outbreak eased.

Wards 16, 21, 33/Surgical Assessment Unit, 34, 35, 36 and the Medical Assessment Unit have now been open and fully functioning for more than 24 hours.

The hospital trust is therefore allowing some visitors to come onto the wards but is asking non-urgent visitors to continue to stay away for the time being.

However, the Trust is still asking staff and visitors not to visit wards 1, 2 and 4 unless absolutely necessary due to the continuing norovirus outbreak on these wards.

Members of the public who are hoping to visit patients are asked to phone the ward beforehand to get an update on the latest situation.

If they do visit they should ensure they wash their hands with soap and water before entering the hospital.

Alcohol gel is not effective against norovirus.

Unless it is an emergency, no member of the public should come to the hospital at all if they have been sick or had diarrhoea in the last 72 hours or been in close contact with someone who has.

The situation will be reviewed again tomorrow, Wednesday.

Due to the outbreak, the Trust imposed a ban on all visiting last week, with the exception of some key areas.

Nine wards at the hospital were affected by the highly contagious winter bug which affects up to a million people in the UK each year.

All visiting at the hospital was stopped with the exception of the Oncology Ward, Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Ward (Ward 32), Maternity Ward (Ward 17), Central Delivery Suite and end of life patients.

Peter Dyer, Medical Director, said: “We understand that the continuing restrictions on visiting will be frustrating for patients and members of the public.

“However, this measure is necessary to help prevent the spread of the infection and ensure safe patient care.

“Our staff have been working extremely hard to deal with this outbreak as quickly as possible.

“We will continue to relax the restrictions when it is appropriate and will return services to normal as soon as possible.”

The norovirus illness does not last long and people usually recover between 12 and 60 hours without treatment other than rest and lots of fluids.

It is found in the community and is easily transmitted.

The bug affects schools, workplaces and other areas where groups of people are in close proximity, such as hospitals.

The elderly and young can be more vulnerable to the infection and anyone with concerns should call NHS Direct on 0845-4647.