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Infection control

Infection control is everybody's business

"In County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, we are committed to reducing the risk of infection. As a Trust, we insist that all our staff maintain a high standard of hand hygiene and encourage our patients and visitors do the same, to protect our family and friends."  

For the wellbeing of yourself and others, we would request that visitors should not:

  • Visit if they are unwell (colds, flu, diarrhoea, cough, sore throat etc).
  • Sit or lie on patients beds.
  • Use the patient toilets.
  • Touch any wounds, medical devices, drips or catheters.

Hand washing is the most effective way of preventing the spread of germs and even if hands look clean, many germs are still present.  By frequently washing your hands with soap and water, you will ensure that your hands are clean and the risk of spreading infection is reduced. 

Advice for Patients:

We would request that patients wash their hands using soap and water: 

  • Before you eat.
  • If you accidentally touch your wounds or catheter.
  • After you use the toilet, commode or go to the bathroom.

Advice for Visitors: 

We would request that visitors wash their hands using soap and water: 

  • On  arrival to the ward you are visiting.
  • Before touching food, for example, if you are helping a relative/friend with their meal.
  • When leaving the ward you are visiting.
  • After using the toilet, changing a nappy or helping your relative to the toilet.    

Hand wipes for patients - If it is difficult to get to a sink or to use a washbowl there are patient hand wipes available - if you need them do not hesitate to ask the staff or one of the team providing your care.

CLICK HERE to see more on hand hygiene. 


It's OK to ask

All our staff are trained in the correct method of cleaning their hands and when they are to do it. Do not be frightened to ask our staff if they have cleaned their hands. They will expect it and by doing so you will be helping to control infection.

If you are uncomfortable asking the member of staff you can always speak to one of the team providing your care.           

Norovirus - advice to hospital visitors


Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages.

Between 600,000 and 1 million people in the UK catch norovirus every year. You may have heard of it as the "winter vomiting bug" because the illness is more common in winter. However, the virus can be caught at any time of the year.

Noroviruses cause a very unpleasant but generally short-lived illness from which people will usually recover without treatment.  The main symptom is vomiting and is sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.  Some people may have a raised temperature, headaches and aching limbs.

Norovirus is highly infectious and it can spread rapidly in semi-closed communities such as hospitals. 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.

People with symptoms 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 contact their family doctor by phone or take advice from NHS Direct either by calling 0845 4647 or visiting . In County Durham or Darlington, you can also call the 111 service.

How to stop it spreading

The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands. You can also catch it through contaminated food or drink or by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.

If you do become ill, you can 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.

Outbreaks in busy places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools are common because the virus can survive for several days on surfaces or objects touched by an infected person. Therefore Members of the public with sickness or diarrhoea are asked not to come into hospital to visit relatives until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.  During an outbreak as a precautionary measure, the elderly and young children are asked not to visit relatives or friends in hospital 

"We have procedures in place to manage patients with such symptoms which includes isolating them, making sure staff aren't moving around and increasing cleaning and reinforcing infection control practice". 

Further information and guidance about norovirus is available on the HPA website at:

or NHS choices website 

'I am writing to congratulate you on your wonderful staff you have working for you at DMH.'

Patient, Catering / Porters / Domestics, Darlington Memorial Hospital