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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 12:17 GMT
Silent night for banned carollers
Torbay Gospelaires male voice choir
The singers say they would have taken necessary precautions
Carol singers have been banned from wards at Torbay Hospital because it is feared they could bring infections in with them.

Torbay Gospelaires male voice choir, which has taken Christmas cheer to patients for 40 years, called it "political correctness gone mad".

Hospital bosses said they could sing in public areas such as the restaurant or the main entrance.

But the Gospelaires say they will not be taking up the offer.

This was always one of the highlights of our year
Conductor Colin Reynolds

A letter from hospital chief executive Tony Parr said visiting times and regulations had been changed because of "clear evidence that the risk of infection is usually at its greatest over the winter period".

He sad: "We have concluded that it is no longer possible to accept offers of Christmas visits by groups.

"In reaching this decision we have been mindful of the need to balance the pleasure that such visits can bring to people in hospital with our responsibility to look after patients' health."

'Overwhelming support'

Conductor Colin Reynolds said: "All the choirmen are very disappointed as this was always one of the highlights of our year and we enjoyed the visits very much.

"The patients really love to hear us sing, and the nurses, too.

"Last year was one of the best visits ever and after we had finished we got a call asking if we could sing just once more in Accident and Emergency, to cheer up the staff who had had a very busy night.

"Surely 16 men would not present a health hazard and we would have taken all the hygiene precautions necessary."

Caroline Hill of South Devon Healthcare Trust said: "We have had overwhelming support from public and patients for restricting visiting times and numbers on the wards to lessen the risk of illnesses being brought in.

"We display posters at entrances saying: 'This may not be the only gift that you take into hospitals.'"




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the choir in action



SEE ALSO
Carols ban 'a misunderstanding'
10 Dec 04 |  West Yorkshire

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