More than 1000 wards closed by norovirus in three years

Ward closures: The highly virulent bug is putting the NHS under strain.
Ward closures: The highly virulent bug is putting the NHS under strain.

A sickness bug has led to more than than 1,000 ward closures in Scottish hospitals over the past three years.

Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Alison McInnes highlighted the total from 2009 to draw attention to the strain put on the NHS by the norovirus.

The North-East list MSP wants the bug to be given the same focus as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Figures obtained from the Scottish Government show 1,088 wards were closed across the country by the start of this year.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde recorded the highest number of closures at 333.

There were 231 in Lothian, 108 in Grampian, 91 in Ayrshire and Arran, 66 in Tayside, 64 in Fife and 56 in Highland. Forth Valley recorded 45 closures, while there were 52 in Lanarkshire and 18 each in Borders and in Dumfries and Galloway.

There were no closures in Shetland and three closures in Orkney and in the Western Isles.

Ms McInnes said: "The Scottish Government should ensure that people understand the highly infectious nature of the norovirus and give it the same attention as MRSA or C Diff.

"Only then will we be able to reduce ward closures across Scotland."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Norovirus is a highly contagious virus which can be challenging to control in even the cleanest of environments and closing wards to new admissions is one of the most effective ways of preventing spread further within a hospital."

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