Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month ago

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Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month ago
Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month ago

The number of people in hospital with flu has risen by 47% in just a week, as the NHS continues to struggle with a shortage of beds as the surge in winter viruses takes hold.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has today finally acknowledged the NHS is under "enormous pressure" and repeated his commitment to tackling waiting lists but once again he blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the current challenges.

An average of 5,105 flu patients were in general hospital beds last week, up nearly seven times on the number a month ago, at the start of December, NHS England figures show.

Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month ago eidehiqdqikinvThe number of people in hospital with flu has risen by 47% in just a week (Getty Images)

Patients in critical care beds have also jumped sharply, up 26% week-on-week from 267 to 336.

At this stage last winter, just 38 patients were in hospital with flu and only two in critical care.

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Ambulance handover delays also climbed to a worrying new high last week, with more than a quarter of patients waiting over an hour to be handed to A&E teams and around four in 10 waiting at least 30 minutes.

Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month agoMore people are being admitted with flu (Getty Images)

This compares with 10% waiting over an hour at this point last year while 23% waited at least half an hour.

The high level of delays reflects the ongoing struggle faced by hospitals to find space for new arrivals.

An average of 12,809 beds a day last week were filled with patients ready to leave, up almost a third on the figure of 9,858 for this time last year.

Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month agoSocial care means people are stuck in hospital beds too long (scu)

During a visit to a school in London the Prime Minister said: "The NHS is obviously under enormous pressure as we recover from Covid and I have enormous admiration for all the people working incredibly hard in the NHS right now to help get us through that.

"We are supporting them with billions of pounds of extra funding but in particular this winter what we want to do is make sure we move people out of hospitals into social care, into communities - that is one of the most powerful ways we can ease some of the pressures on A&E departments and ambulances that are waiting too long."

Flu hospital admissions up by 47% in a week and 7 times higher than a month agoPressure is on the NHS (Getty Images)

NHS national medical director for England Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: "We knew this winter would be one of the most difficult in the history of the NHS and I want to thank staff for all their hard work in caring for and treating so many patients while dealing with record demand on services, including the enormous pressure from flu and Covid.

"The plans we announced last autumn will help ensure we are in the best place possible to provide care for patients at this incredibly challenging time, with extra call handlers in place, community services established to help keep people out of hospital where possible, and we're also continuing to make good progress to put the equivalent of 7,000 extra beds in place by March."

Kelly-Ann Mills

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