Penarth’s University Hospital at Llandough and the University Hospital of Wales at the Heath in Cardiff are both being seriously disrupted by outbreaks of Influenza and Norovirus- according to the Cardiff and Vale Health Board.
One of the 2 main wards at Llandough Hospital has had to be closed. Meanwhile 9 wards at the Heath Hospital have been affected . Members of the public are being asked by the Health Board NOT to visit either of the hospitals over the coming weeks unless absolutely necessary.
Penarth’s Conservative Assembly Member Andrew RT Davies – who is leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly had been approached by worried constituents about the situation and had contacted the Health Board for clarification. The board has now released a 450-word statement.
However the Welsh Labour Government has refused to answer an urgent question on the outbreaks tabled by Andrew R T Davies and has refused to make any public comment
Meanwhile Cardiff and Vale Health Board says it is managing “a significant number of cases of diarrhoea & vomiting and influenza” with affected wards closed to visitors. Apart from asking visitors to stay away from both hospitals it is also clamping down the admission of visitors and restricting visiting to a just close-family with a maximum of 2 visitors per patient.
Andrew RT Davies, who represents South Wales Central which includes Penarth says “This is of course a troubling and concerning time for the patients, staff and health board and controlling the spread of norovirus can be extremely difficult so maintaining patient safety is of paramount importance. Visiting loved ones in hospital is something which can provide great comfort to both patients and their family – but these measures [ the Health Board restrictions on visitors] are implemented with the best intentions.”
“Sadly, in the last decade,” Davies says “more than one in five beds have been axed across Wales and from 2014 to 2015, the Cardiff and Vale Health Board area has lost nearly five per cent of its bed capacity. This latest outbreak again raises questions about the wisdom of these cuts with the Labour Government’s devastating NHS budget cuts having a detrimental impact on the quality of care offered to patients.”
Dr Eleri Davies Director for Infection Prevention & Control at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board says that although norovirus is an unpleasant 48 hour illness for most, it can be more serious for those already in hospital.
She says ““We are now seeing diarrhoea and vomiting infections in the community, with some infections also confirmed in the hospitals this inevitably leads to some instances of ward closures. It is very difficult to stop the spread of norovirus once it is in hospital so we are asking the public to help support us by restricting visiting to what is absolutely necessary.”
Her advice to members of the public is “If you are visiting friends or family in hospital then please heed the advice at the entrances to wards and practice good hand hygiene”.She says soap and water is the most effective way to wash hands and defend against norovirus.
The influenza and nervous outbreaks are creating knock-on effects leading to “disruption in normal patient admission and treatment flows”. Dr Davies urges anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting themselves, to wait until they are symptom-free for at least 2 days before visiting friends and family in hospital or returning to work or school.
The NHS Direct website has more information at http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/doityourself/symptomchecker/vomiting/ or the” NHS Choices” website at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Norovirus/Pages/Introduction.aspx