An NHS hospital has banned flowers because they pose a health risk to patients.

Staff have been told to refuse any plants and bouquets delivered to the hospital and will instead ask relatives to take them away.

Nearby florists have even been put on alert and will not take any orders from people wishing to send their sick loved ones a floral gift.

Hospital officials claim harmful bacteria can grow in the water and spread germs among patients if spilt.

They added that the time a person spends in hospital these days is shorter so flowers would be enjoyed more at home.

The ban will affect all wards at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, Dorset, including the maternity unit and geriatrics ward.

Alison Tong, director of nursing, said the decision would free up nurses’ time to clean wards instead of vases.

She said: "It’s traditional, especially on maternity wards, to give flowers and people like to send them if they are too far away to visit.

"But there is evidence to show that flowers in vases which are not effectively maintained, can pose an infection risk.

"We know that bugs develop in the water that flowers are in and it can get spilt on the ward.

"It is for this reason that we have decided that flowers will no longer be accepted on our wards.

"It will be a flower-free zone.

"Also people are not in hospital for long stays now so they can enjoy flowers more at home.

"We are aware that space is limited on wards and therefore are trying to manage that space effectively to ensure our patients are not put at any risk.

"We’ve got to be responsible to our patients."

Ms Tong said the hospital had contacted florists and flower delivery companies such as Interflora to inform them of the ban.

The new rule means the hospital will have to dispose of its vases.

Ms Tong said: "We’ve got a huge number of vases and they will all have to go.

"We’re not sure yet what to do with them but I think a lot will go to charity shops and places like residential homes."

She added that other gifts such as fruit and books will still be welcomed at the hospital.

Via: Daily Mail