A FORMER nurse has criticised the Royal Bolton Hospital’s ban on visitors and says it is affecting patients emotionally.

The woman, who asked not to be named, is growing increasingly concerned about the mental wellbeing of her 79-year-old husband, who was admitted to the hospital on Friday, January 18 — the day the ban on visitors was enforced.

All visitors, apart from those in exceptional circumstances, are banned in an attempt to stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug norovirus.

Since January 18, the 72-year-old woman, who worked at the Royal Bolton Hospital for 31 years, has seen her husband just once after she “made a fuss” and was let on to his ward last Tuesday — five days after he was admitted.

She calls the hospital five times each day to check his condition, and goes each day to collect his laundry.

The couple have never been apart in their 47-year marriage.

She said her husband, who is disabled, partially deaf and unable to use a phone, had grown very confused and thought his family had abandoned him.

“As soon as I walked in on Tuesday he said “Thank God” and put his arms around me and was almost crying. He put his hand out to the nurses and said “thank you, thank you”.

“Stress kills and he is quite stressed because he can’t see me. You look after the whole of the patient, not just the body, but they are not treating the emotional side of the patient.

“His family is his life and he doesn’t understand why we can’t see him,” she added.

The woman also questioned the effectiveness of the visiting ban on halting the spread of the vomiting bug and said nurses and other staff, who are using public transport and going out into the community, would be bringing the bug into the hospital.

Heather Edwards, head of communications at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The decision not to allow visitors in most cases is not taken lightly, but in the interests of patients in order to prevent the spread of norovirus from the community.

“If the relatives and ward staff feel there are exceptional circumstances this should be looked at on an individual basis.

“Our staff are told if they have been affected they should not come to work until they are fully clear of symptoms. We restrict staff from going between wards unless it is absolutely necessary and reinforce our policies about infection prevention and control.”

The ban on visitors at the hospital has been partially lifted today.

One named person will now be allowed into a ward during normal visiting hours.

Children remain banned from visiting and anyone who has had recent norovirus symptoms or been in contact with a sufferer is also banned.