People 'worried' about going to hospital

PEOPLE are increasingly frightened about being admitted to hospital because of concerns about picking up serious infections, an MP has warned.Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, made the claims after it emerged a ward had been forced to close at West Suffolk Hospital.

PEOPLE are increasingly frightened about being admitted to hospital because of concerns about picking up serious infections, an MP has warned.

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, made the claims after it emerged a ward had been forced to close at West Suffolk Hospital.

Ward G3, a cardiac unit at the hospital in Bury St Edmunds, was shut for 72 hours when a diarrhoea and vomiting bug was brought in by a visitor.

Although it reopened yesterday morning, hospital bosses have now urged visitors not to visit until at least 48 hours after their last symptoms have disappeared.


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But Mr Spring said the issue of infection had been raised by large numbers of constituents while he canvassed during the election campaign - and claimed total clinical freedom, without the pressure of filling beds to meet targets, was the only way to limit such outbreaks.

He said: "I am very concerned about this. It really upsets me greatly and is obviously a matter of great concern amongst my constituents, who said to me on the doorstep they were frightened to go into hospital because of the bugs.

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"Hospitals must be allowed the clinical freedom to take whatever action necessary to deal with this - including isolating and closing wards - without Government interference with regard to targets.

"We have to give absolute clinical control to the hospital to really sort this matter out. Public confidence in the health service is undermined by bugs in this country, and this problem exists more so here than in virtually every other advanced country.

"It is nothing to do with the wonderful work of our nurses and doctors, but when any kind of infection occurs, it should be isolated and closed down without having to compromise through Government targets."

At the end of last year, five wards were closed at the West Suffolk Hospital after more than 150 patients and staff were struck down with highly infectious winter vomiting virus.

Visitors bearing symptoms of the bug were asked to stay away to prevent further contamination from the Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea and lasts between 24 and 48 hours.

The latest outbreak saw the ward closed for three days, while staff showing signs of the illness were not allowed to return to work for 48 hours after their final symptom.

A spokesman for the hospital urged everyone visiting wards to use alcohol gels positioned at the entrances to prevent the spread of bacteria, adding that it was possible to carry the diarrhoea and vomiting virus without immediately appearing to be sick.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "There is a policy whereby matrons have the power and authority to recommend that a ward be closed, and they would work with the hospital chief executive to do that."

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