Flu cases soar by 50% in a week as NHS swamped in ‘one of worst winters in history’

FLU cases have soared by close to 50 per cent in the last week, new figures have revealed.

The NHS has also been swamped with calls to its 111 service as Brits battle illness.


Patients in critical care beds with the flu also increased by 26 per cent, the data showedCredit: Getty

As cases of flu and the number of patients in hospital increase, NHS chief Sir Stephen Powis said this winter is one of the health service’s most difficult.

In the week leading up to New Year’s Day, there were 5,105 patients with the flu in general hospital beds, up from 3,479 the previous week, an increase of 47 per cent, NHS figures show.

Patients in critical care beds with the flu also increased by 26 per cent, the data showed.

This equates to 336 patients and during the same week last year there were 38 patients in general and acute beds, with two in critical care.

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The number of patients with Covid in hospital rose by almost 1,200 on the previous week, with an average of 9,390 patients in hospital with Covid every day.

Staff at NHS 111 have also been inundated with calls, with levels of demand not seen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS 111 answered the second highest number of calls ever in a week, with 410,618 calls answered, up from 365,258 last week and 382,021 last year.

Hospitals in general remain packed, with more than nine in ten beds being occupied.

Figures show that 12,809 beds a day are being taken up by patients who were medically fit to be discharged.

This is up a third on last year, the NHS states.

Data from the report also revealed the impact the crisis is having on ambulance handovers.

On January, around 10,785 patients arrived via ambulance to hospitals in England.

Of those 1,933 had a delay of 30 minutes to an hour, with 2,473 being delayed by 60 minutes or more.

NHS national medical director, 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.”

He added that plans previously announced to safeguard the service would help the NHS continue to care for patients at an ‘incredibly challenging time’.

Prof Powis said extra call handlers are in place and community services have been established to help people out of hospital where possible.

“We’re also continuing to make good progress to put the equivalent of 7,000 extra beds in place by March.

“It remains vital that people make the most of services like 111 online and as ever, only use 999 in an emergency, and it’s also crucial that those who are eligible come forward for flu and covid vaccines as soon as possible,” he added.

New data from the NHS comes after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last night said flu patient in hospital had thit the ‘highest level in a decade’.

Admissions stood at 8.3 per 100,000 people in the week to January 1, down from 14.8 the previous week, according the UKHSA.

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Amid the rise in cases, medics have called on eligible Brits to get vaccinated against covid and the flu.

The Sun has urged readers to ‘Do the Double’ in a bid to protect yourself against both viruses.


WHO is eligible for the Covid boosters and flu vaccines?

All over-50s, those with serious health conditions, pregnant women, care home residents, frontline health and care staff. Also carers and anyone living with someone with a weakened immune system. Kids aged two to 11 can get a free flu shot.

WHEN can I get them?

Flu jabs are once a year. Covid boosters must be given at least three months apart.

HOW do I book?

Visit www.nhs.uk, call 119 or contact your local pharmacy or surgery. You do not need to wait for an invitation to book.

CAN I have both jabs on the same day?

Yes, many NHS sites are offering this, with one in each arm. Studies have proven it is safe and effective to administer the vaccines together.

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