RESIDENTS in Northumberland with certain illnesses are being asked for their help in tackling winter bugs, which can lead to hospital wards being unable to accept any new admissions.
Cases of diarrhoea and vomiting traditionally go up at this time of year.
They are caused by two types of virus — Norovirus and Rotavirus.
They cause unpleasant but short-lived symptoms for the majority of people, but they can have a disruptive effect if they get into a hospital.
Other problems include NHS staff going off sick and appointments being postponed.
Caroline Thurlbeck, strategic head of performance at NHS North East, said: “If these bugs get into a hospital, they can make people who are already poorly seriously ill, particularly older people and those who have long term health conditions.
“Winter is always a busy time for the NHS and the last thing we need is staff off ill, beds unavailable and appointments being postponed.
“If you have been sick or had diarrhoea within the last 48 hours then please do not visit a hospital and try not to bring children aged 12 years or younger to visit, as they often pick up these bugs at school.
“No more than two visitors for each patient at any one time and please do not sit on beds when visiting patients, instead use the seats provided at bed side.”
Symptoms such as sickness and diarrhoea can be best treated by staying at home, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest.
Advice is available from your local high-street pharmacist, by calling 0845 4647 and online from NHS Choices — www.nhs.uk