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Vomiting bug leads to surge in patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital
A WINTER vomiting bug has led to surge in patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital over the last fortnight and prompted health chiefs to issue a public appeal.
Outbreaks of norovirus have swept across Britain, with the Health Protection Agency estimating that more than a million people have been hit by the bug in the last six months, with confirmed cases up by 63 per cent on last year.
The highly contagious stomach bug causes sickness and diarrhoea, and people with these symptoms are being urged to stay away from the hospital.
Health chiefs took the unusual step of contacting media outlets on Saturday evening to help spread the message.
Norovirus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person, and outbreaks of the bug forced two ward closures at Stoke Mandeville last month.
Although sufferers should not normally require a visit to a hospital or GP, the virus can often aggravate other illnesses which may then require a hospital visit.
Sarah Hills, a spokesman for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, said: "It is important that we ensure we have the staff and services available to treat the very sick people who need our services.
"Therefore, we have recently reminded people that they should consider all options available when they are unwell, including the minor injuries and illness unit, their GP or pharmacist, and only to use their local A&E department if they are seriously unwell or critically injured.
"This is a message we need people to consider at all times, not just when our hospital is busy.
"We would also like to remind people to stay away from the hospital if they are experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or sickness, unless you are seriously unwell....
"Until you have been symptom free for 48 hours, please do not visit friends and relatives at the hospital."
Wexham Park Hospital in Slough has also been under added pressure recently, while the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford was "full to capacity" last week, a spokesman told the Bucks Free Press.
Campaigner Terry Price believes the recent ward closures at Wycombe Hospital are partly to blame for the extra pressure being faced by staff at Stoke Mandeville – see related links.
For more information about norovirus see: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Norovirus