Hospital flu cases up 10-fold on last year amid ‘triple epidemic’ warning, NHS England data shows | UK News

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Ten times more people are hospitalized with the flu than this time last year, the latest figures show.

There were an average of 344 patients a day with flu in hospital last week, compared with the 31 seen in early December last year, according to data released by NHS England.

It also comes amid pressure on staff, with new figures showing that almost 360,000 NHS staff were absent from work last week due to illness or self-isolation due to COVID.

Around 19 in 20 general and acute beds were taken up – 80% for adult critical care, NHS England’s first weekly winter update also showed.

More than 13,000 (13,179) beds a day were occupied last week by patients who no longer needed one – that’s a quarter more than in the first week of last December (10,510).

It follows a warning from NHS leaders that it is facing the threat of a “triple epidemic” of COVID, flu and record demand on emergency and emergency services.

NHS England launched its annual 111 campaign today – urging people to use their online service to reduce “record” demand on accident and emergency departments.

People should still call 999 and go to A&E when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is in danger, it added.

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Influenza season is here – and hits the youngest and the elderly hardest

Flu season is here and the warning of crippling winter pressure on the NHS is starting to come true.

We’re monitoring what’s happening with flu in the southern hemisphere to try to predict what impact the virus will have on us come winter. It hit Australia hard and early and it may be repeated here in the next few months.

Hundreds of NHS beds in England were already occupied by flu patients every day over the past week, according to the latest figures. An average of 344 patients per day with flu were in hospital last week. This is more than ten times as many as at the beginning of December last year.

Influenza hits the youngest and the elderly hardest. It is especially dangerous for children with underlying health problems. Pediatricians say “pediatric winter” has begun.

November is when cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) increase. It’s a common winter virus, but social distancing during the pandemic means it hasn’t circulated widely over the past two years. It also means that young children have not been exposed to these winter respiratory viruses before.

As RSV cases begin to decline in late November, flu cases begin to increase.

Pediatricians are really worried about the lack of intensive care beds for very sick children.

A senior consultant told me: “There have been almost no PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) beds in the south of the UK for the last few days and children are sometimes waiting more than 24 hours in A&Es?

“The situation for children is terrible, but no one seems to mention it. Whereas for adults it is always made clear how terrible it is. It is probably just as bad, if not worse, for children.”

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the NHS was likely to experience its “most challenging winter ever” this year, adding that the threat of a “triple epidemic” was very real.

“It has never been more important to be protected against viruses ahead of winter,” he said.

“The NHS has comprehensive plans in place to deal with the winter increase in bed capacity – recruiting more call handlers, introducing 24/7 control centers to track and manage demand and new fall services across the country,” he added.

“Hospitals continue to struggle with more patients coming in than going out, with thousands of patients every day in hospital who are medically fit for discharge, so we continue to work with colleagues in social care to do everything we can to ensure , that people can leave the hospital when they are ready.”

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