THE NHS in the region is urging people with winter vomiting bugs to stay clear of hospitals after losing more than 4,000 beds to the illness last year.

Health bosses have revealed that almost 4000 bed days were lost to norovirus between the months of November to January across the North-East and Cumbria region.

Of those 4000, there were nearly 1500 unoccupied bed days, which means beds that could have been used for patients were left empty due to the spread of the virus.

The remaining 2,500 bed days lost involve beds specifically occupied by patients who, on top of their original reason for admission, were also suffering with norovirus symptoms in the hospital setting.

Friends of relatives who may want to visit patients in hospitals are asked to visit responsibly and see out symptoms at home to prevent spreading sickness around the hospitals.

NHS England’s Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East, Professor Chris Gray, said: “We’ve already seen a number of clinical settings and schools affected by norovirus this winter.

“If you are feeling unwell, have diarrhoea or vomiting, please don’t visit a hospital for at least 48 hours after the last symptom has gone.

"Norovirus can have a serious impact on patients who are often more vulnerable to catching it."