Ambulances left queuing as York Hospital hit by norovirus

York Press: Ambulances outside the accident and emergency department at York Hospital Ambulances outside the accident and emergency department at York Hospital

AMBULANCES were left queuing outside York Hospital and wards have been closed due to an outbreak of norovirus.

York Hospital has been put on “red alert” with five wards closed to new admissions and some elective operations cancelled following an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.

At one point today, 11 ambulances were queuing outside the accident and emergency department at the hospital in Wigginton Road with expected waiting times of three hours, a member of Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) told The Press.

Ambulances are being diverted to Harrogate to help York Hospital cope with what it said was an “extremely busy” period.

The hospital said the number of beds out of action was changing continuously but said it involved up to 25 beds being out of action at one point today.

A paramedic said about the lengthy queue: “It’s a risky practice if paramedics are waiting - you are having to bring others from further afield. Patients are waiting a long time for treatment.”

Another paramedic, who asked not to be named, said they were regularly left waiting in hospital corridors with patients. They said: “If wards do not take patients off A and E they are bed blocked and if anyone ends up in resuscitation we grind to a halt.

“It means fewer resources on the roads."

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: ”It’s a busy time of year and we have got lots of patients coming in. They are moving as fast as they can.”

Norovirus, which is highly contagious, causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

The virus is brought into the hospital from the surrounding community.

Visitors have been asked to stay away from the hospital if they have been unwell until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

Alastair Turnbull, medical director, said: “Norovirus can be a very unpleasant illness and is one of the most infectious viruses known. We have had to close limited areas and may need to put in place more strict visiting controls to affected areas in order to protect both our patients and staff. Please be understanding of this.

“If you are a visitor we ask that you follow guidance, which includes always washing your hands with soap and water before and after visiting and use the hand sanitizer gel."

Mark Inman, head of emergency operations in North Yorkshire in YAS, said: “We have been experiencing some very challenging turnaround times at York Hospital today and are working closely with the staff there to resolve the difficulties and ensure patients are cared for appropriately and safely.”

Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common stomach bug in the UK, affecting people of all ages.

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