A WARD at Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital is closed following an outbreak of norovirus – but a patient’s daughter claims families were given dirty laundry to take home even before knowing what the bug was.

A Press reader got in touch to raise concerns after visiting her 89-year-old mum on Friday, when she was told the ward was closed because patients had diarrhoea.

She said, “I called (on Saturday) and was told the ward was still closed because of a bug but we could come in for her laundry.

“I find this awful that they want us to take home dirty washing before they even know what the bug is.” The family were at the hospital again on Sunday and although they were still not allowed to visit, they found out from a charge nurse that norovirus had infected patients in the ward.

The woman added, “We were told that mum was fine and were given her laundry to wash in a special bag.

“As regards visiting mum, we can at our own risk but because we are in our late-60s and have young grandchildren I feel it is stupid to visit and I will not be taking home any more washing because of the risks.” NHS Fife confirmed that Ward 5 is closed to new admissions due to norovirus.

Infection control manager David Livingstone said, “The ward was closed on Thursday 9th October due to diarrhoea and vomiting and norovirus has been identified.

“Infection control precautions are in place, with alerts and advice for visitors outside the ward. When norovirus is identified in hospital the best way to control the spread and protect patients is to close wards temporarily.” Mr Livingstone explained that patients’ laundry would normally go home for laundering “because the temperatures we use in our industrial machines could damage personal clothing”.

He continued, “Patients on a ward affected by norovirus or other rarer organisms that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting have their washing sealed in a special bag normally used for soiled clothing.

“The bag ensures the family member can’t come in contact with an organism like norovirus if any is present.

“The bag can then go straight into the washing machine and when the cycle starts the bag seams dissolve allowing the soap and water to wash the clothes in the normal way.

“The washing process also destroys the organism. Relatives are provided with an advice leaflet.”