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Play your part in reducing the spread of bugs this winter

Wednesday, 09 July, 2014
Play your part in reducing the spread of bugs this winter

Nurses from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are visiting Northumberland and North Tyneside this week to raise awareness among residents about what they can do to help reduce the spread of bugs this winter.

As part of International Infection Prevention Week 2013 which runs from 20 to 26 October, the Trust’s infection control team is going to supermarkets and hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside to educate people about norovirus – often known as the ‘winter vomiting virus’ – and their role in helping to prevent its spread.

Norovirus is a very common gastrointestinal virus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting and is estimated that norovirus affects between 600,000 and one million people in the United Kingdom every year.

The virus is highly infectious and spreads rapidly in hospitals and care homes, particularly during the winter.

A key part of Northumbria Healthcare’s campaign is that it is everyone’s responsibility to help control the spread of the virus. Trust staff will be reinforcing the message that people with symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit loved ones in hospital to prevent the virus from affecting patients.

Trust staff are also stressing the importance of good hand hygiene in helping to control the spread of bugs during the winter and throughout the year.

Catherine Stokoe, lead nurse for infection prevention and control for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As we approach winter and traditionally the time of year where instances of norovirus increase in the community, it is vital that people play their part in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and other winter bugs.

“The most important thing you can do if you’re feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting, or have had these within the last two days, is not to visit loved ones in hospital. This will help prevent the virus spreading to patients, many of whom could be frail and elderly.

“The same applies if you were planning to visit a care home or GP practice – please wait until you have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours before visiting these places.”

Trust staff start their week of visits in Berwick today (Monday) and will go to Whitley Bay, Morpeth, Blyth, Benton, Cramlington, Hexham and North Shields and also visit Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals.

The team will be giving advice on aspects of infection control and demonstrating good hand hygiene techniques.

Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water is the single most important thing people can do to help to reduce the spread of infections such as norovirus and should be always be done as a matter of routine:

  • Before eating or handling food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching animals or animal waste
  • After handling rubbish
  • After changing a nappy
  • Before and after touching an unwell or injured person
  • Before and after visiting a care home or hospital ward

It is especially important that people wash their hands with soap and water thoroughly after contact with someone who is suffering from winter vomiting virus. People who are ill themselves and suffering from sickness and diarrhoea should also wash their hands regularly and thoroughly.

Catherine added: “During the winter we know that winter bugs such as norovirus spread quickly in the community and can affect hospitals and care homes.

“It is an unpleasant virus, however, generally short-lived and most people recover without treatment.

“Residents really can help prevent the spread of these viruses which is why we’re going out into the community to speak to people about preventative measures before the worst of the weather.

“We urge people to come along to speak to us and learn how they can help us to help protect some of our most vulnerable members of society this winter.”

Anyone who is suffering from norovirus symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest while the virus runs its course. If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, people are advised to telephone their doctor or NHS 111 or visit for online advice.

The full programme of visits is below:





Monday 21 October


Co-op, Castlegate, Berwick

Monday 21 October


Main entrance, Wansbeck General Hospital

Monday 21 October


Park View shopping centre,

Whitley Bay

Monday 21 October


Shiremoor Resource Centre, Shiremoor

Tuesday 22 October

9am -noon

Morrisons, Morpeth

Tuesday 22 October


Main entrance, Blyth Community Hospital

Tuesday 22 October

1pm -4pm

Asda, Benton

Wednesday 23 October


Dining room, North Tyneside General Hospital

Thursday 24 October


Asda, Manor Walks, Cramlington

Thursday 24 October


Oxford Centre, Longbenton

Thursday 24 October


Main entrance, Hexham General Hospital

Friday 25 October


Hexham Mart,


Friday 25 October


Parks Leisure Centre, North Shields