Norovirus - keeping our patients and staff safe
6 December 2023
The number of patients admitted to hospital at the Countess of Chester Hospital and Ellesmere Port Hospital with norovirus in the last week has risen quickly, reflecting the national trend reported earlier this month by the NHS. Thirteen patients currently have norovirus across both hospitals.
The NHS Trust responsible for both hospitals (Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) will be temporarily pausing visiting from today, 6 December, to all adult acute inpatient areas and all of Ellesmere Port Hospital while the virus is active amongst a small but growing number of patients and while staff are at risk of catching it.
The usual exceptions of patients who are extremely vulnerable, living with a disability or patients who are end of life apply and we can facilitate this on a case by case basis. Visiting to the critical care unit and paediatric, neonatal and obstetric wards in the Women and Children’s Building can continue as normal.
Cases of norovirus will add more pressure onto hospital services already grappling with earlier than usual pressures, because patients often need to be isolated in single rooms or wards are closed to new admissions to contain and control the spread of the virus. The Countess of Chester Hospital has currently closed one ward for this reason. More patients are also attending the Emergency Department (A&E) this week due to freezing temperatures, which often leads to elderly and frail people being at a higher risk of falling and needing emergency care.
New national weekly figures published last week, and for the first time this winter, show the NHS is seeing high levels of demand in hospitals with evidence that winter pressures are already mounting on staff ahead of December.
Sue Pemberton, Acting Director of Nursing and Quality and Assistant Chief Executive Officer, at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:
“We all know somebody who has had some kind of winter bug recently and this is now starting to trickle through to hospital admissions, with a much higher volume of norovirus cases compared to last year that is exacerbated by this week’s cold weather.”
“It is clear that we need to contain and control the cases of norovirus in our hospitals to prevent it spreading, and so we have taken the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily pause visiting to Ellesmere Port Hospital and all adult acute inpatient wards at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
“Restricting visiting is the right thing to do to protect everyone in our care however if you are affected by this and have concerns about the welfare of your loved one please don’t hesitate to contact our PALS team who can work with you to address your concerns.
“I know it can be difficult having a loved one in hospital especially if you cannot visit them and we will restart visiting as soon as we can but our absolute priority is to protect our patients and keep them safe. We will announce any further changes to visiting – including restarting it - on our website and social media.
“Please also help to manage winter pressures and use local NHS services in the usual way – by calling 999 in an emergency and using NHS 111 for other health conditions – and by getting their Covid and flu jabs if eligible.”
Norovirus is a stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting. If you catch It, make sure you rest and have plenty of fluids. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is the best way to prevent its spread.
While we have paused visiting for most patients we are still supporting visitors for patients who are particularly vulnerable or who are receiving end of life care.
Please contact the relevant ward manager if you would like to speak to someone about whether it is appropriate for you to visit your loved one using the contact details below.
If you have a question or concern about your loved one while they are in hospital, contact the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01244 366066 or freephone 0800 195 1241 (option 2) or firstname.lastname@example.org.