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Wales Online
Wales Online
Lucy John

One of Wales's biggest hospitals tells people to 'avoid A&E'

A Welsh health board has warned that a vomiting and diarrhoea bug is making patients unwell in its hospitals after reporting a steep rise in Covid and flu. Swansea Bay University Health Board said it had seen "high numbers of extremely unwell patients" at Morriston Hospital's accident and emergency department (A&E).

The infection control team has reported cases of diarrhoea and vomiting affecting patients in the health board's hospitals. It follows a significant jump of more than 170 cases of flu, Covid, and several other viral respiratory infections at its sites in the past week. Mask wearing has been reinstated across Swansea Bay’s sites as a result of the jump, with visitors also urged to wash their hands and use the hand gels available on the wards.

Ahead of the New Year bank holiday weekend, Swansea Bay's executive medical director Dr Richard Evans has urged the public to only attend A&E for life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries. He said: “Winter is always an extremely busy time for the health service, but in common with other health boards in Wales we are seeing even more acutely unwell patients than we normally would. You can get more Swansea news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.

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“We are treating heart attacks and strokes as usual, but also those with serious underlying and complex conditions. These people need to be seen in ED. But the pressure on Morriston and our other hospitals is being further compounded by the steep rise in levels of Covid, flu and other respiratory illnesses.

“As a result, we are asking the public to avoid ED unless absolutely necessary. Our staff will always prioritise the sickest patients, so those with non life-threatening illnesses or injuries are facing extremely long waits to be seen.”

Dr Evans said the public could help to reduce the spread of infection and pressure on services and staff by postponing visits to family and friends in hospital if they themselves had symptoms of a cold, flu-like symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting, or they had been caring for someone who was unwell.

“Respiratory infections spread quickly in hospital and older patients and those with chronic medical conditions are much more likely to get extremely ill if they catch them,” he added. “The public can also help us by using other services wherever possible if they or a loved one are unwell.”

In many cases cold and flu-like symptoms, including sore throats and headaches, can be treated at home. Community pharmacies can offer advice and over-the-counter medications for minor illnesses. This includes some prescription-only medication.

The 111 Wales website also offers a symptom checker and advice on next steps NHS 111 Wales While the minor injury unit (MUI) at Neath Port Talbot Hospital is open between 7.30am and 11pm seven days a week at Baglan Way, Port Talbot, SA12 7BX.

An experienced team of specially-trained emergency nurse practitioners, triage nurses and health care support workers can treat children aged over one and adults for minor injuries including cuts and minor burns, sprains and strains, broken bones, dislocation of the shoulder, fingers and toes, bites and assaults. The MIU cannot treat illnesses including Covid and flu, coughs, colds, sore throats, breathing problems and strokes.


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