County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust places cookies on your computer to improve our website. These cookies don't collect information that identifies a visitor and are all anonymous.� They are used to measure its performance and to provide enhancements to you while using the site. To find out more about the cookies we use, see our privacy policy. Close
Default Sitemap

Help keep bugs out of hospital this winter

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust currently has confirmed cases of Norovirus and is asking local people to help keep cases of vomiting and diarrhoea to a minimum in hospitals this winter.

Cases of diarrhoea and vomiting traditionally go up in the colder months. Most bouts of winter vomiting are caused by norovirus infection which is the most common cause of gastro-enteritis in England and Wales.  It is estimated that norovirus affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year.

The virus causes unpleasant but short-lived symptoms for the majority of people, but can have a devastating effect if it gets into a hospital. As well as making some patients seriously ill, the virus can also lead to hospital wards being unable to accept new admissions or appointments needing to be postponed.

Noel Scanlon, Executive Director of Nursing and Director for Infection Prevention and Control at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "We are asking everyone visiting their friends or relatives in one of our hospitals to support us in protecting our patients and staff from these bugs.  

"They can make people who are already poorly seriously ill, particularly older people and those who have long term health conditions.

"With the help of our local communities we can keep these bugs to a minimum and this will enable us to keep our services running as normal. There are some simple things people can do. If you have vomiting or diarrhoea within the last 48 hours then please do not visit a hospital. Try when reasonable, not to bring children aged 12 years or younger to visit, as they often pick up these bugs at school. No more than two visitors for each patient at any one time. And please do not sit on beds when visiting patients, instead use the seats provided at bed side."

The main symptom of norovirus is vomiting, which can be projectile in nature, and is sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.  Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs.

Mr Scanlon added: "Norovirus is highly infectious and it can spread rapidly in semi-closed communities such as hospitals which is why people should stay away from work or school and avoid visiting until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

"People feel very unwell when they have a norovirus infection, but it is not usually necessary to seek medical advice unless symptoms persist for more than a few days.

"They should stay at home and take plenty of fluids until they are free of symptoms for 48 hours. If the illness persists for more than a few days, they should seek health advice in the usual ways such as from their GP or 111."

If you do become ill, you can also reduce the risk of passing on the virus to others by:

  • Washing hands thoroughly and regularly at all times, but particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Staying away from work or school until you have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Not visiting friends or relatives in hospitals or care homes until you have fully recovered and been free of symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Not handling or preparing food for other people until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

Symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest. Advice is available from your local high-street pharmacist, on line from NHS Choices and from the 111 service.


'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital