Hospitals fear outbreak of stomach bug

TWO wards are closed to new patients in Worthing Hospital and restrictions are in place at St Richard’s Hospital to avoid an outbreak of a stomach bug.

Visitors are being asked to stay away from both hospitals if they are suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea to prevent the illness spreading.

The Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, as well as Southlands in Shoreham, issued a plea this week for people to help keep patients safe from the bug.

“The vast majority of our wards are not affected at the moment, and we want to keep it that way,” said Cathy Stone, director of nursing and patient safety at the trust.

“In the interests of our patients we are asking that visitors take the utmost care not to bring infections onto the wards – if you are suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting, or if there is a chance that you are still infectious after being ill, please delay your visit if at all possible.”

The hospitals have seen relatively little of the bugs throughout the winter but the illness is circulating in the wider population and so inevitably there is the risk of it being introduced onto wards, explained a spokesman.

Two wards at Worthing Hospital are currently closed to new inpatient admissions, and there are more limited restrictions at St Richard’s.

Visitors are being advised to postpone visiting if they are currently suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting symptoms, or if they have been affected within the last 48 hours – people can still pass the illness on up to two days after they become symptom-free.

“Our priority is always to keep our patients safe, and we are asking people to help us to achieve that,” added Ms Stone.

Anyone with a specific question about visiting is advised to contact the relevant ward directly to talk to staff there.

The Trust’s website – www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk – will be kept updated regarding the latest advice to visitors.