How to recognise norovirus symptoms and what to do

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Scarborough Hospital’s original Graham ward is set to reopen to help ease the pressures of increased patient numbers over the busy winter months.

Following a programme of refurbishment, the 19-bedded medical ward which is situated opposite Pat’s Place, the hospital’s dining room, will once again be known as Graham ward.

The ward currently known as Graham ward, on the second floor of the North Wing, will revert back to its original name of Ann Wright ward.

Graham Ward will reopen on January 7 for a period of four months to cater for medical patients over the winter, when numbers of admissions tend to rise.

Pamela Hayward Sampson, head of nursing at Scarborough Hospital, said: “We are pleased to be reopening the original Graham Ward, which has undergone a comprehensive programme of refurbishment to bring it up to the highest standard.

“The reopening of the ward is part of our winter planning to ensure that we are well prepared to provide appropriate care over the winter months when demand for hospital beds is at its highest.”

Antonia Moore will be the ward sister and visiting hours will be 3pm to 4pm and 6.30pm to 7.30pm as per the rest of the hospital.

However, as this is the time of year when Norovirus - otherwise known as the winter vomiting bug - can be more prevalent, visitors are asked to take extra precautions when visiting family and friends in hospital.

Visitors are being asked to check at the main reception for details of any ward closures, use good hand hygiene and are encouraged to stay away from the hospital if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting.

Libby McManus, chief nurse at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are specifically asking people who have been unwell not to visit the hospital until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

“This is really important because Norovirus is highly infectious.

“The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands, although the risk is reduced over time.

“If you are visiting someone in hospital we ask that you follow guidance, which includes always washing your hands before and after visiting and use the hand sanitizer gel.

“This is to keep the virus contained and to help visitors to keep themselves safe as well as their friends or relatives.”

The Health Protection Agency has reported that winter vomiting cases are soaring, with confirmed cases of people suffering from norovirus 83 per cent higher than at this time last year.

The agency also reports that there have been 61 outbreaks in hospitals in the past two weeks.

Care should be taken to prevent the virus from spreading by washing hands frequently, not sharing towels or flannels, and disinfecting surfaces the infected person has touched.

Hand hygiene is a key factor in preventing the spread of disease and as part of its strategy, Scarborough Hospital now has a hand washing station and sanitizing gels in main reception, which patients are encouraged to use.