BGH’s bug battle is discussed at Holyrood

Norovirus has been prevalent in Borders General Hospital on and off for three months and concern has now been raised about it in Parliament.

Last week MSP Christine Grahame brought up her concerns about the virus at the BGH with First Minister, Alex Salmond, who promised the involvement of Health Secretary Alex Neil.

However, NHS Borders say they have not experienced one long outbreak but a series of individual outbreaks in different wards.

NHS Borders medical director, Dr Sheena MacDonald, said: “Christine Grahame’s statement in Parliament implied that there has been one long outbreak in Borders General Hospital for a protracted period. In fact this is not the case. What we have experienced is individual outbreaks affecting different wards at different times with repeated re-introduction of norovirus to the hospital.

“We are still in norovirus season and there has locally been a large amount of norovirus in the community affecting local schools and care homes as well as individuals in their own homes.

“Norovirus has been described as the perfect pathogen because of its low infectious dose, lack of any warning about symptoms, lack of any lasting immunity, effects which can contaminate a wide area and its ability to survive in the environment for long periods.

“Health Protection Scotland does not consider the impact of norovirus in Borders this year to be unusual compared with previous years.

“We apply strict infection control measures to minimise transmission whilst still delivering excellent care for our patients. This has included a high profile media campaign to discourage visiting and inform the public on precautions they can take. Additional control measures also include enhanced cleaning regimes both across the core areas of the hospital and in all affected rooms and wards.

“Infection control and hospital management are also monitoring compliance with infection control measures including hand hygiene compliance and hospital cleanliness.

“This year NHS Borders has taken a very proactive approach to our communication with the public about norovirus. This has included daily updates through the media on ward closures, advice to visitors about the highly contagious nature of norovirus and regular requests for visitors to stay away from the hospital whenever possible to prevent the spread of the virus, and stop it from being brought in from the community.

“The care of patients is paramount and the board is working very closely alongside the infection prevention and control team to resolve the issue at the earliest opportunity.”