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Virus and staff shortage force bed closures and halts ops at Altnagelvin

By Jonathan Bell

Beds have been closed and routine operations cancelled after a virus broke out at a Northern Ireland hospital.

A bought of gastroenteritis has hit Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry forcing the closure of 25 beds in its elective orthopaedics ward. Increased infection protection measures have also been put in place across the hospital.

The hospital has said it is unusual for the virus to hit in the summer months and staff holidays and sickness had compounded the matter.

Management has had to scour the world for staff but this has not proved as successful as had been hoped. Although a new intake of nurses is due to start in September which is hoped to alleviate the staffing problem.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan urged people to follow the advice of the health trust.

"Issues around workforce numbers are sadly symptomatic of major historic ongoing faults in workforce planning. We have an insufficient number of qualified staff and those that we do have are overstretched. This problem is only going to become more pronounced in the future unless action is taken now," he said.

"Patients and staff cannot afford to be let down by a failure to bring about transformation of our healthcare system but the current political stagnation is failing them miserably."

Dr Dermot Hughes, from the hospital, said: "The safety of our patients is a fundamental priority for the Trust and this temporary measure has been brought in to maintain a continuity of service and ensure patient safety.

“People should avoid visiting the hospital if they are feeling unwell, particularly if they have diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Those who are visiting are asked to thoroughly wash their hands before and after visiting. Visitors should visit only one patient whilst at the hospital, refrain from sitting on hospital beds and not move from ward to ward when visiting.”

Hospital Bed Closures Due to ongoing Challenges Approximately 25 beds at Altnagelvin Hospital have been temporarily...

Posted by Western Health and Social Care Trust on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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