The chance of infection in some NHS wards varies dramatically based on whether the nurses leave the windows open, according to research from the Faculty of Engineering.
A team led by the School of Civil Engineering studied airflow in a “Nightingale” ward—the classic NHS ward that traditionally accommodated two rows of up to 30 beds—using tracer gases to simulate how airborne infections spread.
They found ventilation in the ward was generally good when windows were left open, keeping the danger of airborne infection low. But risks increased fourfold when the windows were closed.
Lead investigator Dr Cath Noakes, from the University of Leeds’ School of Civil Engineering, said: “These wards are still in operation and, although they have often been subdivided into smaller areas with 6-8 beds, their ventilation and structure is still fundamentally the same.