AN OUTBREAK of the highly contagious norovirus at East Surrey Hospital spread to as many as nine wards at one point last week.
Michael Wilson, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, says that the sickness and diarrhoea bug has been contained.
He said: "This time of year can be very difficult and very challenging with contagious infections brought into the hospital by patients and visitors.
"We experienced a rapid outbreak of norovirus. At one point we had nine wards affected but thanks to the precautions and procedures we have in place to control infections, and the efforts of our staff, this has been contained."
Mr Wilson added that by the end of last week, just five wards were affected and three of these had been clear of symptoms for at least 24 hours, so were under observation.
He added: "I know we have excellent infection control procedures but that doesn't mean I'm not open to new ideas.
"With this in mind I invited the Health Protection Agency (HPA) into the hospital to see if the experts could offer any advice.
"I was very encouraged to hear that the HPA thought that we had done everything right, but it is helpfully going to do some detailed analysis for us to help us understand how we and other trusts can better contain these sorts of outbreaks in future."
Mr Wilson also revealed that 13 nursing homes within the hospital's catchment area were affected by norovirus.
He said: "We need to remain vigilant and continue to follow our infection procedures."