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Norovirus warning as figures reveal over 1,600 hospital bed days lost to bug in Cheshire and Merseyside last winter

Norovirus warning as figures reveal over 1,600 hospital bed days lost to bug in Cheshire and Merseyside last winter
03 December 2018

The NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside 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 now revealed that over 1,600 bed days were lost to norovirus between November 2017 and January 2018 across the area. Of those 1,600, there were nearly 500 unoccupied bed days, which means beds that could have been used for patients were left empty due to the spread of the virus.

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.

Dr Kieran Murphy, NHS England medical director for Cheshire and Merseyside, 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, or 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 if you have the bug because there's no specific treatment for it - antibiotics won't help because it's caused by a virus.

“If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 service is a great alternative to presenting to your GP in person.”

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 two 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 community pharmacist or GP for advice before trying them.