Hospital says hand washing is crucial to stop spread of winter bugs

The hidden bacteria on our hands Credit: ITV News Anglia

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has begun a week long awareness campaign aimed at stopping the spread of infections.

The 'Staying well this winter' campaign is about showing people how easily infections can be passed on.

Experts in infection control say simply washing our hands properly will stop things like the flu or even the more severe norovirus, from spreading.

In the last two years the West Suffolk Hospital has had to close its wards 13 times because of the norovirus.

Other hospitals in our region have too, the QEH in King's Lynn has closed wards 21 times.

Our hands have hidden bacteria that can be killed through proper washing Credit: ITV News Anglia
Rowan Procter, Interim Chief Nurse, West Suffolk Hospital Credit: ITV News Anglia

"We need to think of different ways of how we can prevent continuous spread, hand washing is key for all of us, for all of our staff here as well as our relatives, patients and visitors that are coming into our organisation."

Rowan Procter, Interim Chief Nurse, West Suffolk Hospital

million bacteria can be found on our hands

The ultra violet light shows up bacteria on the hands Credit: ITV News Anglia

Infection control experts say the best prevention is hand hygiene, so a number of portable sinks have been placed around the hospital.

It's being done to give people better access to washing facilities. Staff are also on hand to give people tips on how to was their hands correctly.

"We hope that this week-long campaign will give patients and visitors to the hospital lots of useful tips and practical advice to help them stay well this winter. By following some simple advice at home, such as making sure they keep warm, eat a good diet and wash their hands after using the loo and before preparing food, they can help protect both themselves and their families from a range of illnesses. "

Rowan Procter, Interim Chief Nurse, West Suffolk Hospital
  • Always wet your hands first before you put soap on

  • Makes sure you get between the fingers and thumbs

  • Rub with a rotating action across your hands

  • You must scrub for at least 15 seconds

  • Remember to also wash your wrists

One of the portable sinks is in the reception area of the hospital Credit: ITV News Anglia

The campaign also wants to encourage people to stay well by eating a good diet, keeping warm and having the flu jab.

Staff also want to remind people not to visit relatives in hospital if they have been poorly with vomiting or diarrhoea and they must stay away from the hospital for at least 48 hours.

By taking these few simple steps the hospital hopes to keep the spread of winter bugs down to a minimum.

Click below to watch a full report by ITV News Anglia's Emily Knight.