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Health boards under pressure due to rising infection rates

04 Jan 2024 5 minute read
Several health boards are reporting extreme pressures on their services

Health boards have reported extreme pressures on their services with one suspending routine visiting due to rising infection rates.

Routine visiting has been temporarily suspended at Morriston Hospital in Swansea because of rising numbers of infections from a mix of viruses and bacteria.

Seven wards have had to be closed because of cases of Norovirus, Covid, flu or C.difficile (a bacterial infection which causes diarrhoea).

Swansea Bay Health Board says staff at Morriston are doing everything they can to stop infections spreading further, but while this work is underway, routine visiting was paused at 8am on Wednesday (January 3) until further notice.


Visiting will still be allowed for patients who are at the end of life, or the last days of life; or for carers and relatives providing practical help and care for the patient when they visit – for example help with mealtimes and hydration, or support for patients with dementia or other clinical needs.

A Swansea Bay Health Board spokesperson said: “This visiting should be agreed in advance in liaison with the ward manager.

“Parents can still visit their children, but we would ask that this is restricted to one parent at a time.

“Only one visitor at a time may accompany/visit a patient in the emergency departments, as footfall must be kept to a minimum to safeguard other patients and staff from the risk of infection.

“The only exceptions will be if an emergency department patient is at end of life, or critically injured/critically ill, or needs additional support; for example they have cognitive impairment or other clinical needs which require more than one visitor to support them.

“However please Do NOT visit if you have any symptoms of illnesses, including diarrhoea and vomiting, fever, coughs etc.

“Some patients may require an essential support assistant for specific additional support, e.g. a support worker or interpreter. These essential support assistants are not classed as visitors.

“We are also reminding people to avoid coming to the emergency department if they have Norovirus symptoms – diarrhoea and vomiting, stomach cramps or aching limbs. This tummy bug is unpleasant but usually goes away on its own after a couple of days with no lasting harm.

“However for vulnerable hospital patients whose immune systems might not be as strong, Norovirus can be more serious, and you could pass the virus to other patients and to staff.


Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has also reported “extreme pressure” on
its emergency departments.

The health board says emergency departments in Royal Glamorgan, Prince Charles and Princess of Wales hospitals are all extremely busy.

A spokesperson said: “We hope you stay safe and well but if you do need help and it is not life-threatening or an emergency, please try another service instead.

“The most seriously injured and ill patients are prioritised at our A&Es. This means that, even if you are there before someone else, if you have a less serious condition, you will likely face an extended wait.”


Hywel Dda University Health Board has asked that anyone who is currently experiencing respiratory or gastric related symptoms or who has been in contact with other people who have these symptoms, to avoid visiting friends and relatives in hospital to limit the spread of infection.

Fran Howells, Head of Infection Prevention at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Illnesses such as flu, diarrhoea and vomiting can pass from one person to another very easily and typically at this time of the year we find that these viruses circulate more frequently in the community.

“They can be serious for sick and vulnerable patients, so I would urge people not to visit patients in hospital at this time if you are or have recently experienced these illnesses. It’s important to ensure you are completely free from symptoms before visiting patients.

“Washing our hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of all infections. So please remember that washing our hands regularly will protect us and the people we care for from getting unwell.”


Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has also reported pressures and issued similar advice for people visiting its hospitals over the winter period.

Angela Wood, Executive Director of Nursing & Midwifery at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “As the sustained pressures on health and care services continue across North Wales and the country, we have to try to limit the spread of viruses, such as flu, Norovirus and COVID-19, in our hospitals over the winter months.

“Patients who are unwell in our hospitals are more likely to be vulnerable to severe illness because of COVID-19, flu and other infections such as colds, diarrhoea and vomiting.

“Rates of infection in hospital are higher than usual for this time of year, as so many viruses are circulating within our communities, so there is more of a risk of infection.

“When we are seeing higher infection rates in our hospitals some of our wards will close to visitors so we urge family and friends who plan to visit to contact the ward beforehand for further information.

“You can help protect your loved one, yourself, and staff, by not visiting if you have a cough, cold, diarrhoea, or vomiting, or have a temperature.

“We encourage everyone to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before and after they enter any wards or other clinical areas to help keep bugs at bay. Visitors are not permitted to sit on patient beds or use patient toilets. Masks are not enforced in our hospitals, but on some wards, visitors may be asked to wear them where respiratory viruses are circulating. Mask are freely available for people who wish to wear one.

“Thank you for your continued support and understanding during these times.”

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6 months ago

One of those could be controlled better, covid. But the UK government doesn’t want us to know about the mess they created.

Rhddwen y Sais
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

We have a very generous health settlement compared to England but it is always Westminsters fault. Until we can be truthful and admit that Wesh health provision is poor despite favourable settlement terms. We will never move forward.

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