Help stop the spread of Norovirus in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire this winter

People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being asked to help stop the spread of Norovirus this winter by following some simple steps.

Norovirus – often referred to as the winter vomiting bug – is a very unpleasant and highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Although most people will recover within a few days, if it is introduced unintentionally into schools, nurseries, hospitals or care homes, it can spread incredibly quickly and affect vulnerable people.

Norovirus is already causing problems in hospitals across the area and has led to ward closures and had an impact on waiting times.

To help reduce norovirus-related problems this winter, health and care leaders in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire are asking people to play their part in stopping the spread of the condition by just thinking NORO:

N     No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus – send someone else to visit loved ones
       until you are better.
O     Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes
R     Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food
O     Only hand-washing will prevent spread of norovirus – alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, a GP in Market Lavington and Clinical Chair of the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“There have already been a number of clinical settings across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire affected by norovirus and we’re keen to keep these to a minimum as our health and care services begin to experience increased demand on services this winter.

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 as usually drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to relieve pain will help.

If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 phone or online service is a helpful alternative to going to your GP in person for advice.”

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs said:
“At this time of the year we all need to be extra vigilant about the dangers of catching and spreading norovirus.

No one wants to suffer the effects of this unpleasant disease and we need to do all we can to minimise the disruption it can have on our hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, schools and nurseries.

Taking a few very simple steps can really help to address this problem. I’d urge everyone in our local area to makes sure they are washing their hands regularly with soap and water, keeping away from hospitals and GP surgeries if they have the condition and waiting at least 48 hours after symptoms have gone before returning to work or school.”

Local Paediatricians recommend that anyone who looks after children download the free HANDi app for expert medical advice

Paediatricians at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH) are urging parents to download an app which gives parents and carers more confidence in dealing with minor conditions at home.

HANDi app, which is free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet, provides expert medical advice about the most common childhood conditions.

 

Dr Luai Mare, Paediatric Specialty Doctor at the RUH in Bath said:

“The HANDi app was developed at Musgrove Park and has been adapted by paediatric consultants at the RUH so that anyone who looks after children – parent, carers, grandparents, teachers and child minders – can get instant support when faced with one of the six most common childhood illnesses.

“We know that many parents don’t want to bring their children to A&E unless they really need to, but they often end up here because they aren’t sure where else they should go. The information on the app is the same that you would receive from a healthcare professional here at the RUH.”

The common childhood illnesses included on HANDi app are:

  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • high temperature
  • chestiness
  • new born problems
  • stomach pain
Paediatric specialty doctor Gemma Gough says that HANDi app is really simple to use:
“It guides you through a series of questions about the child’s symptoms and advises on the best course of action – it will tell you if the problem is something you can treat at home or if you need to make an appointment with your GP, and if it’s urgent, HANDi app will tell you to go straight to a Minor Injury Unit or A&E.

“I would encourage anyone with young children to download the app. You never know when you might need it.”

You can download the app for free from iTunes: http://bit.ly/HANDiiTunes and Google Play: http://bit.ly/HANDiGoogle