Fourteen hospital patients have been struck down by a winter vomiting bug.

Bosses at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton have been forced to close Vallance ward after 12 patients fell ill. Twineham ward at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath is also closed to new admissions following two confirmed cases of norovirus.

Managers are now battling to stop more cases from emerging in what is one of the busiest times of year for hospitals.

Closing wards can have a knock-on effect on other parts of the hospital because it means fewer beds are available and patients may face longer waits in accident and emergency until a space can be found for them.

Cases of nororvirus start to increase at this time of year and anyone experiencing symptoms is being asked not to visit patients in the hospital until they are free of infection.

Infection control

A spokesman for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, said strict infection control measures are in place.

He said: “If you feel unwell with gastrointestinal symptoms you should stay at home and drink plenty of water and not visit friends or relatives in hospital until you are free of the symptoms for at least 48 hours.

“Failure to do this will increase the risk of spreading the infection to patients and staff in hospital.

“Hospital visitors who are not experiencing symptoms should practise good hand hygiene by regularly washing their hands and using the alcohol hand gel dispensers located at the entrance to all wards.”

Norovirus is highly infectious and is the most common cause of infectious gastroenteritis in England and Wales.

The illness is generally mild and people usually recover fully within two to three days.

None of the county’s other major hospitals is currently affected, although the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards experienced some problems earlier this month.

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