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NHS faces ‘perfect winter storm’ with tenfold rise in hospital flu cases

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The NHS in England is facing a “perfect winter storm” with 10 times more people in hospital with flu than this time last year, and ambulances experiencing deadly delays when arriving at A&E with sick patients.

There were an average of 344 patients a day in hospitals in England with flu last week, more than 10 times the number at the beginning of last December.

And as many as 3 in 10 patients arriving at hospitals by ambulance are waiting at least 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E teams. Health chiefs say the crisis is leading to deaths.

The figures on flu and ambulance delays were published by NHS England on Thursday and offered the first weekly snapshot of how hospitals are performing this season.

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the healthcare system in England, said: “These figures really hammer home just how stretched services already are as we head into a perfect winter storm. Significantly higher numbers of people are in hospital because of flu compared to this time last year, coupled with the fact that Covid-19 has not gone away.”

He added: “The life-saving safety net that NHS ambulance services provide is being severely compromised by these unnecessary delays, and patients are dying and coming to harm as a result on a daily basis.”

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Source: The Guardian, 24 November 2022

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