PATIENTS and visitors have been urged to help prevent another Norovirus outbreak at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

Disaster struck earlier this year when wards had to be closed in a desperate bid to control infections.

The hospital is currently clean but staff are worried the diarrhoea and vomiting bug, which is transmitted from person-to-person, could return in the high-risk autumn to winter season.

A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust admitted it "needs help from the public to ensure wards are kept clear from infections".

"Everyone visiting a hospital ward, whether they are patients, staff or visitors has a responsibility to help prevent the spread of infections," the spokesman added.

A checklist from Hinchingbrooke says family and friends who visit can help keep the hospital clean by washing their hands with soap and water.

Visitors should think carefully about who or what they touch and should never sit on hospital beds, the Trust says.

Infection control teams also warn people not to bring food or drink into the hospital and not to visit if they are already ill.

"If you have any symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting, please do not visit the hospital," infection control nurse specialist Marlis Emery told users.

She added: "Always washing your hands when visiting the hospital will not only protect patients but also the visitor. Not eating and drinking in clinical areas can help too."

She reassured residents that "we don't currently have any restrictions in place for visitors" but said: "Those who have experienced diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit the hospital for 48 hours after their last symptoms."

Protection has also been stepped up at the hospital with new sliding doors installed over the past three years to make sure any infections are easily contained in limited areas.

Staff also wear gloves and aprons to prevent the spread of germs when there is contact with patients whereas hands-free taps and soap dispensers have been put in at the entrance of every ward.

Should you forget to wash your hands, a talking device is there to remind you of your duty to the cleanliness of the hospital.