Swine flu: Children banned from baby unit

CHILDREN have been banned from entering a specialist unit for babies at an Essex hospital in a bid to help reduce the spread of swine flu.

James Hore

CHILDREN have been banned from entering a specialist unit for babies at an Essex hospital in a bid to help reduce the spread of swine flu.

Colchester General Hospital introduced the month-long series of measures Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and its Children's Ward from yesterday morning .

There will also be restricted hours for grandparents and other adults who will only be able to visit between 3pm and 5pm although parents and carers will still have full access.


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Bosses said they have targeted youngsters because they are believed to be more vulnerable to the H1N1 virus.

The restrictions were introduced after advice from healthcare professionals at the hospital, including paediatricians and infection control experts.

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Dr Bhupinder Sihra, consultant paediatrician, said the move had been prompted by concerns over swine flu combined with the start of the long school holiday.

He said: “During the summer there is a huge rise in the number of children visiting siblings on the Children's Ward and Special Care Baby Unit.

“The restrictions have been introduced as children may be more vulnerable to swine flu than older people.

“Those with underlying health issues, like many who are receiving inpatient care with us, are more at risk of complications if infected with the virus.

“Therefore, stopping children, who may pick up the virus in the community, from visiting is a sensible precaution at this time.”

It is hoped the restrictions will also reduce the risk of visitors spreading other infections such as coughs and colds.

The revised visiting times will be reviewed at the start of September.

Lynda Pearce, matron for children's services, apologised for any inconvenience the changes will create.

She said: “We believe some other hospitals have already introduced similar restrictions but we recognise that they may result in child care issues for people who would normally bring children with them as visitors.

“However, I am confident that our decision has been taken in the best interests of vulnerable babies and children.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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