YORK Hospital is on “red alert” with a virulent stomach bug leading to operations being postponed and nurses being redeployed as staff are struck down by the virus.

Health bosses yesterday admitted that the hospital was struggling to cope under the pressure of the outbreak, and had triggered its 'red alert status' as the vomiting bug spread to ten wards at the Wigginton Road site.

Mandy McGale, director of operations for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Red alert status means that the hospital is under significant operational pressure which triggers our contingency plans to be initiated.

“This includes redeploying staff when necessary and rescheduling non-urgent planned procedures and operations. There are a lot of staff within the hospital who are qualified nurses whose role is not usually ward-based. It is these staff that are being moved to support the wards in delivery of basic nursing care.

The Press reported yesterday that four elderly wards had been completely closed to new admissions as the hospital battled top contain the spread of the bug.

Libby McManus, chief nurse, said: “We are specifically asking people who have been unwell not to visit the hospital until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

"This is really important because the virus is highly infectious. The virus is easily spread by contact with an infected person, especially through their hands.”