Our Executive Director of Nursing, Angela Wood, has made a direct plea to the public to help keep the region’s acute hospitals safe from unnecessary infections.
It follows huge pressures across the health system in North Wales, caused by increased incidences of flu transmission, red ambulance calls (the most serious) being hugely up on last year and increased attendance at our emergency departments after a four-day holiday break.
Of concern has been an increase in non-compliance, by visitors, of guidelines designed to protect patients and staff from infections being brought into the health board’s acute sites.
Angela Wood said: “I want to reiterate how important these visitor guidelines are for patients and staff in our hospitals.
“We recently increased the times visitors can attend to see loved ones but with this comes with some civic responsibility.
“Firstly, no one should even consider entering a hospital if they have any symptoms of a cold or flu, or know they are unwell.
“If you do, you put the wellbeing of your loved one at risk and it also threatens the health of our staff, who will not be able to care for the population if they contract flu, Covid or RSV.
“In the week ending December 19 we diagnosed 300 new patients with flu, which was 58% up on the week previous.
“This number of patients is the equivalent of 22% of the beds we have available in acute care. These infections were mainly in the 0-4 years and over 60s age groups, the most vulnerable.
“This is before we factor in increased Covid transmission and other respiratory diseases, which commonly become an issue at this time of year, and the recently reported increase of almost two-thirds of the most serious (red) ambulance calls.
“If you are well and visit our hospitals please wear a mask, unless you are exempt. It helps protect patients and staff if you have a virus but are not displaying any symptoms.
“Follow the rules on hand hygiene. Clean your hands with alcohol rub or soap and water as soon as you enter the hospital. Clean them again if you touch surfaces, such as door handles, and again before you touch anything belonging to a patient or surfaces they would use.
“Please keep your distance where possible and make sure there are no more than two visitors per patient at any one time, unless agreed by the nurse in charge. These simple measures will help us to keep our hospitals safe and infection free.
“I have instructed all of my nursing staff to challenge visitors who are not wearing a mask or are showing any symptoms of viral infection.
“Please be respectful to them if they challenge you, as they are only trying to protect your loved ones from harm.
“We have many vulnerable people within our hospitals and your help and continued cooperation is vital if we are to keep them as safe as we possibly can.
“It only takes one person to ignore these guidelines for an outbreak to start. However, I would like to thank the majority of our visitors for working with us to keep infections down.”