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Help protect patients by visiting responsibly

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is appealing to families and friends wanting to visit patients in its hospitals to ‘visit responsibly’ to help reduce the spread of the common sickness and diarrhoea bug, norovirus.

The Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital and community hospitals in the area, is experiencing increased instances of norovirus and currently has two wards affected*. The virus is active in the community, and neighbouring Trusts are also experiencing ward closures.

Dr Selina Hoque, director of infection prevention and control at the ​Trust, said: “Although Norovirus rarely requires medical treatment, for those who are already ill it can be more serious and it also makes it more complicated for us to provide care in the hospital.

“Most people will recover from the bug within a few days but will remain contagious for some time after the symptoms have disappeared. For hospital patients, who can often be more vulnerable due to existing illness or injury, the bug can have a more serious impact on their health.

“It is vitally important we protect our patients, and we have well-established systems in place to do this. However, we really need visitors and members of the public to assist us by visiting responsibly.

“We know that people place great value on being able to visit loved ones in hospital, but when we are experiencing infection outbreaks in the community and in hospitals, they can unknowingly put patients’ health at risk.

“If you are feeling unwell, or actually have diarrhoea or vomiting, please don’t come into our hospitals as a visitor for at least 48 hours after the last symptom has disappeared.

“If you become unwell while you are visiting, please tell someone in charge, even if you were ill in a toilet. Also, if you are due to attend for an operation or for an outpatient appointment and have been ill, please ring the hospital and let them know.”

The symptoms of norovirus infection begin about 12 to 48 hours after a person becomes infected. Symptoms can last for 12 to 60 hours. They start with the sudden onset of nausea, followed by projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Some people will have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs. Most people make a full recovery within one or two days.

The most effective way to avoid the infection is through good hand-washing, using soap and warm water rather than special hand-gels, particularly after using the toilet and before eating and drinking anything. This is especially important if others in the house are unwell.

For most cases of norovirus the best thing to do is rest and make sure you are getting plenty of fluids. If you are worried about being ill, particularly if you feel that you are becoming dehydrated, call your GP surgery or dial 111 for advice.

NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time. It's available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Alternatively, for online healthcare advice, visit NHS Choices.

The Trust’s switchboard can be contacted on 0300 456 8000 (local rate) or 01803 614567.