PATIENTS are being turned away from a Huddersfield hospital ward because of a disease outbreak, it was revealed today.
Admissions to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary's ward seven have been restricted after a patient was found suffering symptoms matching viral gastroenteritis.
The ward deals with general medical cases.
Infection controls have been put in place and patients have been transferred or discharged to other medical facilities in a bid to contain the virus.
Senior infection control nurse Carole Hallam, of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, believed the outbreak was under control.
She said: "Over the winter some patients and staff have shown symptoms consistent with viral gastroenteritis.
"Control measures to minimise the spread of infection include the restriction of new admissions to the affected wards and the transferring or discharging of patients to other healthcare settings.
"The Trust remains vigilant for new cases, particularly at this time of year, and the current levels of infection are under control.
"It is typical to experience increased levels of this and other related symptoms in hospitals and the wider community over winter."
The outbreak coincides with new research commissioned by Unison, the UK's largest union, revealing the number of cleaners working in the NHS has been halved in the last 20 years.
Statistics showed only 55,000 cleaners working in the NHS in the year 2003 to 2004 compared with 100,000 20 years ago.
The union blamed cost cutting and contracting-out for the drop but warned it increased the risk of infection in hospitals.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said:
"Get more cleaners on the wards and around the hospitals and make them part of the NHS infection control team."
The infection control measures at the Infirmary were expected to continue until the weekend.
A Trust spokesman said: "The ward will be kept closed to new admissions until no symptoms have emerged for a time."