Visitors urged to ‘visit responsibly’ to help reduce the spread of flu

Published: 19 January 2017

Hospital staff are appealing to families and friends wanting to visit patients in local hospitals to ‘visit responsibly’ to help reduce the spread of influenza (flu).

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital and nine community hospitals in the area, has restrictions in place on a very small number of wards* due to flu.

Flu is a common virus which circulates in the community and, although usually more prevalent in the winter, can occur at any time. Most people will recover from flu within a few days, but will remain contagious for some time after the symptoms have disappeared. For hospital patients, who can often be more vulnerable due to existing illness or injury, the virus can have a more serious impact on their health.

Dr Selina Hoque, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is currently an increase in flu circulating in our community. We know that people place great value on being able to visit loved ones in hospital, but when we are experiencing infection outbreaks in the community they can unknowingly put our patients’ health at risk.

“Flu rarely requires medical treatment but for those who are already ill it can be more serious. It is vitally important we protect our patients and we have well established systems in place to do this. However, we really need visitors and members of the public to assist us by visiting responsibly.

“If you are feeling unwell, or actually have flu-like symptoms, please don’t come into the hospital as a visitor for at least five days. Also, if you are due to attend for an operation or for an outpatient appointment and have been ill then please ring the hospital and let them know.”

The most effective way to avoid the infection is through good hand washing, using soap and warm water or special hand-gels, particularly before eating and drinking anything. This is especially important if others in the house are unwell.

For most cases of flu the best thing to do is rest and make sure you are getting plenty of fluids. If you are worried about being ill, particularly if you feel that you are becoming dehydrated, please call your GP surgery or dial 111 for advice. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time — it’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Alternatively, for online healthcare advice, visit

Torbay Hospital’s switchboard can be contacted on 0300 456 8000 (local rate) or 01803 614567.