PERFORMANCE: A Somerset nurse has been shortlisted for a national award for her work in developing a resource to help health staff and others reduce the spread of infection from the norovirus stomach bug.

Jo Howarth, a qualified nurse and Infection Prevention Lead with NHS Somerset’s Patient Safety Team, created a toolkit to help ensure prompt action and good communication among health and social services.

She is now in the running for a prestigious award from HSJ’s sister title Nursing Times for devising the approach, which was disseminated across the South West by the strategic health authority.

Ms Howarth, who was shortlisted in the Infection Prevention and Control award category, will have to do a 30-minute presentation to a judging panel to progress to the finals.

“It is imperative that we work together to minimise the disruption to patients, families and staff when norovirus is in circulation,” she said.

“The virus is present all year round but there is an increased risk of outbreaks in winter when people are living and working more closely indoors. The key is prompt identification so the appropriate measures can be put in place.”

The winners of the Nursing Times 2011 Awards will be announced at a special ceremony in London on November 2.