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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Sickness bug adds to Cumbrian hospitals' cancelled operations crisis

Operations continue to be cancelled at north Cumbrian hospitals – and staff are also now battling with the spread of the winter vomiting bug.

Some non-urgent elective surgery, including day case procedures, have been postponed at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

On Thursday, the News & Star revealed that the decision to cancel operations was taken, after accident and emergency staff faced an “unprecedented” influx of people.

The decision is being reviewed twice a day for both hospitals, and North Cumbrian University Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs them – is optimistic that no further cancellations will be required at the West Cumberland Hospital from Monday.

Staff already facing a battle to return to “normal” service as soon as possible, are being hit with the added difficulty of a rise in the number of cases of norovirus – also known as the winter vomiting bug.

Currently, wards Elm A and Elm B, and one bay on Beech C/D ward and two on Maple D ward are all closed to further admissions at the Cumberland Infirmary because of norovirus.

An eight-bed area on Gable ward, at the West Cumberland Hospital, is currently “on watch” for the vomiting bug, but has not been closed.

Corinne Siddall, director of operations for the trust, said: “The two hospitals are working very closely together and, due to the rise in the number of patients requiring emergency admission, a few patients have transferred from Carlisle to West Cumberland Hospital which now has extra capacity. We have also opened an extra 25 beds at the Cumberland Infirmary and eight beds at West Cumberland Hospital to efficiently manage the flow of patients through the hospitals.”

She said the trust is working closely with all the healthcare agencies in Cumbria to ensure patients receiving the care they need. Ms Siddall added: “We apologise to those patients whose elective procedure has been delayed and we will endeavour to provide them with the next available appointment.

“Meanwhile, norovirus continues to be an issue in the hospitals as it is now prevalent within the community.”

She urged people in the community to support the hospital in its battle against the bug by following a few simple steps.

Visitors are urged never to come to the hospital if they feel unwell; to ensure they have been free from symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting for 48 hours before visiting; to always wash hands with soap and water; not to sit on the beds; to avoid bringing babies and very small children to visit a patient as they are more vulnerable to infection; and to limit visitors to two per patient.

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