Norovirus closes Lynn hospital ward

Stock image of a ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt.

Stock image of a ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

A ward at a Norfolk hospital has been closed for a week following an outbreak of norovirus which the hospital failed to tell the public about for seven days.

Terrington Ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn has been shut to new admissions and visitors since Monday, November 24, but patients have been allowed to leave the 34-bed short stay ward when well.

Unusually, the hospital failed to tell the public about the outbreak of the highly infectious disease, until quizzed by the EDP on Monday.

Care minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb urged hospitals to let the public know when they had multiple cases of norovirus or closed wards. 'It is in everyone's interest to be transparent and open,' he said. 'It is also best practice in terms of reducing the risk of spread.'

The last reported outbreak of norovirus at the QEH was in March when two wards and 25 patients were affected.

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One cancer patient who was kept in isolation on the ward because there were not enough beds elsewhere said staff had worked tirelessly.

Christine Brace, from Grimston, was taken to the ward on Monday after feeling unwell following chemotherapy for breast cancer. The ward was closed within a couple of hours of her arriving.

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'The staff were under extreme pressure,' the 69-year-old said. 'They were at dropping point. I was treated with the utmost sterile procedures and felt very safe. The staff who attended me took every precaution to ensure I was not infected.

'They looked exhausted but never complained, always had a smile and words of encouragement.

'The whole staff from the tea lady to the doctors but especially the nurses were pure Florence Nightingales.'

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said it currently had one case of norovirus out of its 1,000 patients.

Dr Ngozi Elumogo, director of infection prevention and control, said: 'As the level of norovirus begins to rise in the community, we will start to see more cases coming into hospital.'

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