Labour shadow health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie has condemned the Scottish Government’s response to an outbreak of Norovirus – the winter vomiting bug – that has affected almost 100 patients and staff at Monklands hospital in Glasgow.
As of Friday 2 December, 31 patients were seeking treatment for symptoms of norovirus, with a total of 70 having reported symptoms since the weekend. 22 members of staff at the hospital have also been affected.
The hospital has also had to reschedule elective surgery cancelled on Monday and Tuesday, due to a shortage of beds.
In a statement, Baillie said: “I am deeply concerned at the huge surge in cases of the winter vomiting bug at Monklands Hospital. Dealing with hospital acquired infections should be the top priority of NHS Lanarkshire and Nicola Sturgeon, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, but the situation is getting worse.
“The same conditions that allow norovirus to flourish also leave us exposed to more serious infections like C difficile and MRSA. This means that we need to clean up our hospitals and tackle infection at all levels.
“Patients and their families have a right to expect when they go into hospital they will be treated in safe conditions. At a time of staff shortages the increase of those diagnosed as suffering from norovirus at Monklands Hospital is an example of what can happen if infection is not stopped from spreading.
“The situation is clearly getting worse and the fact so many staff members have also been affected and non-emergency operations are being cancelled means Monklands has been virtually closed. It is time for the SNP government to look at the Scottish Labour plan to establish a properly resourced reference laboratory to tackle healthcare associated infections.”
However, a spokesperson for NHS Lanarkshire insisted that staff shortages were not affecting services, and that “all services are running as normal”.
Infection Control Manager Heather Gourlay said that those who think they have Norovirus should not attend hospital. “It is important that people do not visit hospital if they have symptoms of Norovirus,” Gourlay said. “They should wait until they have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours as they may still be contagious.”