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Staff at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are urging members of the public to stay away unless their visit is “absolutely essential” to help halt the spread of winter sickness bugs.
With seven wards currently closed to new admissions at Southampton General Hospital to control spread of gastroenteritis viruses – resulting in a loss of 30 beds – bosses are concerned that increases in cases of diarrhoea and vomiting now being seen in the community could worsen the situation.
The move is one of a number of measures to reduce movement across the hospital site, which also includes restrictions on the transfer of patients and both clinical and non-clinical staff to other clinical areas unless necessary for patient care.
“We are currently dealing with an intense build up of pressure following a number of wards being affected in the past two days and are requesting that visitors and members of the public help to limit transmission of viruses to vulnerable patients and to staff caring for them,”said Dr Graeme Jones, director of the infection prevention unit at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
“While we are working hard to contain the spread of infection within hospital, the national picture suggests the situation is going to worsen in the community over the coming days and that could have a major impact on any progress we make now, so we are asking people to stay away unless their visit is absolutely essential.”
Families are asked to ensure school-age children do not visit at all due to their increased risk of transmitting infection, while any staff members who have symptoms are being told not to attend work until they have been clear of symptoms for two days.
Anyone planning to visit Southampton General, the Princess Anne Hospital or hospice Countess Mountbatten House is advised to check with the relevant wards and departments before attending as any visits are at the discretion of staff in each individual area.
Dr Jones added: “We are looking to limit visits from everyone, but those who do need to make an essential visit should be clear that, if they have been unwell or suffered sickness or diarrhoea in the last 72 hours, they need to have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours before contemplating coming in.”