Matron’s plea to keep bugs at bay

File photo dated 15/06/2006 of an antibacterial hand gel as 'basic precautions' to prevent the spread of the winter vomiting bug norovirus were urged today by the Scottish Government. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday January 8, 2012. Scotland's chief medical officer and chief nursing officer said people affected by the bug should follow simple tips to stop it spreading. They include staying hydrated, keeping hands clean and not preparing food for other people. Chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns said: 'Norovirus, or the winter vomiting bug, spreads quickly where people are living or working in close proximity - such as schools, hospitals, care homes, offices and hotels.  See PA story SCOTLAND Bug. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

File photo dated 15/06/2006 of an antibacterial hand gel as 'basic precautions' to prevent the spread of the winter vomiting bug norovirus were urged today by the Scottish Government. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday January 8, 2012. Scotland's chief medical officer and chief nursing officer said people affected by the bug should follow simple tips to stop it spreading. They include staying hydrated, keeping hands clean and not preparing food for other people. Chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns said: 'Norovirus, or the winter vomiting bug, spreads quickly where people are living or working in close proximity - such as schools, hospitals, care homes, offices and hotels. See PA story SCOTLAND Bug. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

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Matrons at community hospitals are urging visitors with stomach bugs or flu-like symptoms to stay away.

The request is aimed at safeguarding frail, elderly patients from infection and is made by staff at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.

Community hospitals in the county include Babington in Belper, Bolsover, Cavendish in Buxton, Clay Cross, llkeston, Newholme in Bakewell, Ripley, Walton and Whitworth in Darley Dale.

The advice is timed to remind people that with the weather getting colder, winter illnesses, suchas diarrhoea and vomiting can pose an additional threat to patients undergoing rehabilitation at their community hospitals.

It is not just the wards which are vulnerable to the spread of highly contagious bugs. Anyone popping into hospitals, even for a short time, can spread viruses around if they are unwell.

Winter stomach bugs - often caused by norovirus - are highly contagious so contact with otherpeople should be minimised to avoid rapid spread.

Anyone planning to visit hospitals is asked to stay away if they - or anyone in their family - has suffered diarrhoea, vomiting or ‘flu-like’ symptoms in the last four days.

Melissa Dalton, matron for the Derbyshire trust, said: “People want to see friends and relatives in hospital as often as they can. However, by visiting while they’re ill with a stomach bug, or even just feeling under the weather with mild symptoms, can easily bring the virus into hospital. This can be particularly serious for people who are already ill or who have a long-term condition.”

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly anywhere that people are gathered, such as schools or offices, especially during colder months.

Good hand hygiene can limit the spread of the infection. These steps will help stop a norovirus spreading:

* Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet, and before preparing food.

* If you’re in an NHS facility, pay attention to hygiene notices such as using hand gel. Washing your hands with soap and water is better at preventing the spread of norovirus Sthan gel alone.