ON CHRISTMAS Eve a quarter of the bed closures caused by Norovirus in England were in Bolton.

Health bosses said it was not necesarily the case that all the restricted beds had someone with Norovirus. 

There were 535 beds shut because of the vomiting bug in the whole of England, with 386 occupied, 87 of those were at Royal Bolton Hospital.

On Christmas Day, 141 of the hospital's beds were closed, more than a fifth of the hospital's total beds (528).

Royal Bolton Hospital has been advising visitors to stay away since December 27 when eight wards were shut because of the virus.

Data published by NHS England shows the first bed closures reported at the hospital were on December 4 when 16 beds were thought to be at risk.

By Christmas Day 109 beds were occupied and closed because of the virus.

Since Christmas Day the number of cases at the hospital has been decreasing and the last data available, for December 30, shows 92 beds were closed with 77 of them occupied.

Andy Ennis, Chief Operating Officer, said: “The winter period has been and continues to be a challenging time for all NHS services. We have a busy hospital and the bed situation fluctuates.

"Norovirus did affect us and caused us to close a number of beds for a time. For example, 4 per cent (24 beds) of our available beds were empty and not usable because of Norovirus on Christmas Eve and this was mitigated by the opening an escalation ward of 24 beds, in line with our winter plans.

“The hard work of staff and the robustness of infection control measures – which included restricting visiting for a period - has meant we are now in a much better situation. Working closely with our infection control team, we have managed the situation and within a week have reduced the effects of norovirus to a bare minimum.”

On Friday Royal Bolton Hospital announced visiting restrictions which had been in place for eight days had been lifted.

A statement on the trust's website said: "The situation has now improved and today (January 4th) visiting restrictions have been lifted.

"The common sickness and diarrhoea bug, norovirus, continues to circulate in the community."

However, the hospital is still reminding people that the bug is highly contagious and anyone experiencing symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea, high temperature, headache or stomach cramps is asked to stay away.

Jon Rouse, chief officer for the GMHSCP said: “As the weather is set to turn colder over the next week, it’s really important to stay warm, stay well and look after vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours.

"Our hospitals will be very busy so we ask people only to come to A&E if really needed. Care and support is available from your GP practice and local pharmacy as well as NHS 111, including NHS 111 online.”