latest health care news

08.03.18

Norovirus closed equivalent of two hospitals in one day this winter

Norovirus, diarrhoea and vomiting have closed over 75,000 hospital beds in England this winter, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

With an average of 5,722 bed closures each week, this winter has seen a 32% increase in bed closures than the average of the four previous winters.

On the worst day over 1,200 beds were closed - the equivalent of two hospitals.

Fewer available beds means that hospitals struggle to admit new patients, including emergencies from A&E departments, which the RCN says contributes to trusts being unable to meet the government's target of 95% of patients attending A&E being seen within four hours.

Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN said that even though nurses were working hard to prevent the spread of norovirus, bed stocks were still reaching “unsustainably low levels.”

She added: “When the health service is under the extra pressure of winter, the loss of even a few hundred beds a day can have severe consequences for hospitals.”

The RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control, Rose Gallagher, explained the challenges that the infection inflict on the workforce: “Nursing staff often fall victim to norovirus outbreaks – which then exacerbates existing staffing problems, as affected staff shouldn’t report for duty until they’ve been symptom-free for 48 hours.

“If they return to work too early, staff risk unknowingly passing on the illness, as they remain infectious.

“Norovirus presents a big challenge to nursing staff in winter, and we can all play our part in trying to reduce it.”

Top image: BM Photography

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