DONCASTER’S main hospital had wards shut for almost two weeks because of outbreaks of infection, governors have been told.
Two wards were hit in February and March this year by the norovirus, which causes sickness and vomiting.
The first ward to be affected by the bug was the hospital’s ward 31, which was shut down on February 17.
Two days later, the illness had spread to ward 30.
Ward 31 remained closed until March 1, while ward 30 was back open again by February 25.
Closing wards means closing them to new admissions to prevent any spread of infection.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust medical director Dr Robin Bolton told governors the outbreaks had been managed by the trust’s infection control team and had also closed four wards at Bassetlaw Hospital. He told the meeting it had put significant pressure on bed availability and capacity. The hospital put up signs warning of the presence of the infection.
Bosses at the hospital say the virus is relatively common in large hospitals.
The virus affects people of all ages and is commonly transmitted by person-to-person contact where there has been inadequate hand hygiene after use of the toilet.
Doctors are warning the public they can help keep the virus away from the hospitals by not coming to hospital as an inpatient, outpatient, or visitor if they have any signs of a stomach upset.
The bug can also be prevented by people washing their hands thoroughly.
Maurice Madeo, deputy director of infection prevention and control, at the hospital said: “Hand hygiene is the single most important thing that we can do to prevent the spread of infections.
“We advise staff to wash their hands before and after every patient contact – and that’s advice we could all adopt – wash your hands frequently and regularly with a good anti-bacterial handwash or soap.
“Make sure that you really wash between your fingers, under your fingernails, and around your thumbs and wrists.
“We can’t be too careful about limiting the spread of all infections.
“An infection on top of another medical condition can prove fatal to sick, frail patients.
“So we all need to be mindful of the need for best practice in personal hygiene.”
Norovirus affects households and schools, businesses and hospitals.
It is estimated that noroviruses, which are the most common cause of gastroenteritis, affect between 600,000 and a million people in the UK each year.
They are highly infectious, say doctors.