NHS England shared that flu cases rose by almost 50% in seven days. According to new figures, there were an average of 5,441 people a day in the hospital with flu during the week leading up to New Year’s Day, compared to 3,746 the week before. These figures significantly increased from last year’s week when there were only 38 flu cases. In addition, the number of flu patients in acute beds increased by 26% over the same period, from 267 to 336.
The increase in flu cases has overlapped with a rise in the number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19. Hospital bed occupancy remains high, with 93% of beds occupied and nearly 13,000 mattresses a day taken up by patients, an increase of 30% from last year.
As demand on the NHS has increased, staff in NHS 111, a service that provides medical advice and information over the phone, have answered a record high number of calls. During the week leading up to New Year’s Day, NHS 111 answered 410,618 calls, up from 365,258 the week before.
The NHS has implemented several measures to ease the strain in response to the high demand for services. These include recruiting hundreds of extra call handlers for NHS 111 and 999, establishing around-the-clock system control centres in every area to manage demand, and establishing acute respiratory infection hubs to reduce pressure on accident and emergency departments. The NHS has also made progress in providing 7,000 extra beds by March.
Despite these efforts, the NHS is still struggling to match the demand for care. England’s top doctor, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, is urging eligible individuals to get vaccinated, saying that it is not too late to get a vaccine and that over 375,000 vaccine appointments will be available next week. Professor Powis emphasized the importance of utilizing emergency services like NHS 111 and 999 and urged people to get the flu and Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible. He thanked NHS staff for their hard work in treating patients despite record-high demands.
Several Twitter users shared their opinions on the recent spike in flu cases. Jane Smith wrote, “I can’t believe how quickly the flu cases have spiked in just one week. My heart goes to all the healthcare workers working tirelessly to care for all these patients. #flu #NHS”
Mark Johnson wrote, “It’s outrageous that the government hasn’t done more to prepare for the flu season. How have they allowed the situation to get so out of hand?”
Rachel Thompson wrote, “I know many people are worried about the flu and Covid-19 right now, but it’s important to remember that the NHS is still here to help us. If you feel unwell, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. And if you’re eligible, please consider getting vaccinated. #NHS”