United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is asking anyone planning to visit Lincoln County, Pilgrim Hospital Boston and Grantham and District Hospital to stay at home if they, or their family members, have had diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the past 72 hours (three days).
A number of medical wards at Lincoln County Hospital are still closed or restricting admissions due to ongoing cases of the bug. This is a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. The affected areas will reopen to admissions once the patients have either been discharged and/or the area has been symptom free for 72 hours.
Due to the outbreak, restrictions are being placed on the number of visitors permitted into hospitals. Anyone visiting a relative will be asked if they have had any symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting in the past 72 hours, and will not be permitted to visit if they have.
A ULHT spokesman said: “Visiting restrictions will be enforced on a case-by-case basis, and where visitors are allowed, the number of visitors per patient should be strictly limited to a maximum of two at a time in all but exceptional circumstances. No children will be permitted to enter medical wards during this outbreak.
“We are still asking everyone who wants to visit a friend or relative in hospital to ring the ward at Lincoln before visiting. The ward will then advise whether it is appropriate to come to the hospital or not. Wards can be contacted via the hospital’s switchboard.
“A&E remains open as usual but is exceptionally busy. We would ask people to only attend A&E with serious or life threatening illnesses and to seek alternative support for on-going problems or minor injuries. Those who attend with minor conditions will still be treated, but will have long waits.
“We urge everyone to think twice before they go to A&E – if it’s not serious or life threatening, you shouldn’t be there. Many illnesses can be better treated by visiting your local pharmacy, calling 111, visiting your local GP, GP out of hours services, or attending a walk in centre or a minor injuries unit.”
The virus is not uncommon in the winter. These stomach bugs are highly contagious and can spread rapidly in places like hospitals who see hundreds of visitors every day.
Andrew Prydderch, deputy director of operations said: “We know that people feel that they must take every opportunity to visit their sick friends or relatives, particularly at this time of year. However if they have been unwell, they could be putting their loved ones and others at risk. Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhoea and vomiting and, just like flu, the virus can seriously affect vulnerable patients.
“If you have norovirus symptoms, please do not attend A&E. The best thing you can do is rest, and take plenty of non-caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.”
People worried about prolonged symptoms should contact NHS 111 or ring their GP, not visit their surgery. They will be able to provide advice for people who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as children under the age of five or the elderly.