The NHS in Yorkshire and the Humber is appealing to residents to heed healthcare professionals’ advice on norovirus as figures show the extent of invaluable hospital bed space lost due to the nasty condition last winter.
Health bosses have revealed that over 9000 bed days were lost to norovirus between the months of November 2017 to January 2018 across the region.
Of those 9000, there were nearly 2000 unoccupied bed days, which means beds that could have been used for patients were left empty due to the spread of the virus.
The remaining 7000 bed days lost involve beds specifically occupied by patients who, on top of their original reason for admission, were also suffering with norovirus symptoms in the hospital setting.
Winter bugs like these take up resource and bed space and cause a reduction in patient flow through the wider hospital system.
The message to friends and families who may want to visit patients in hospitals is to ‘visit responsibly’ and see out symptoms at home to prevent spreading the sickness and diarrhoea bug.
Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. It's also called the winter vomiting bug because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.
NHS England’s Medical Director for Yorkshire and the Humber, Dr Paul Twomey, said: “We’ve already seen a number of clinical settings and schools affected by norovirus this winter, and unfortunately instances like these are likely to rise over the coming months as the temperature drops.
“If you are feeling unwell, have diarrhoea or vomiting; please don’t visit a hospital for at least 48 hours after the last symptom has gone. Norovirus can have a serious impact on patients who are often more vulnerable to catching it.
“Self-treating at home is the best way to help yourself and avoid putting others at risk. You don't normally need to see your GP as usually fluids and paracetamol to relieve pain, as required, are sufficient prior to its resolution - antibiotics won't help because it's caused by a virus.
“If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 service is a helpful alternative to presenting to your GP in person for advice.”
Norovirus rarely requires medical treatment and most people will recover from it within a few days but remain carriers for some time.
Know the symptoms of norovirus:
• suddenly feeling sick
• projectile vomiting
• watery diarrhoea
Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs. The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to 2 or three days.
Adults can take antidiarrhoeal and anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medication – these aren't suitable for everyone though, so you should check the medicine leaflet or ask your pharmacist or GP for advice before trying them.