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Found 47 results
  1. News Article
    The NHS could struggle to cope with a catastrophic flu season after leading medics warned of plunging flu vaccine uptake among its frontline staff. NHS figures show just 39% of frontline staff had a flu vaccine in November, down from 52% in November 2020. The worrying statistics mean the already under-strain service could lose crucial staff to illnesses and risk spreading the virus during its busiest winter period. Speaking to The Independent, Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: “We are concerned about staff vaccination against flu. Post-pandemic, there is a certain lack of appetite and there is probably a degree of apathy about staff getting vaccinated against flu, and we think that’s a problem. “We need to be doing more to get stuff vaccinated against flu.” He added: “I think societally and as healthcare practitioners, I think we have a moral duty to get ourselves vaccinated so we don't create gaps by going off sick and we don't infect our patients.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 December 2023
  2. News Article
    People who have been hospitalised with flu are at an increased risk of longer-term health problems, similar to those with long Covid, data suggests. While the symptoms associated with such “long flu” appear to be more focused on the lungs than ongoing Covid symptoms, in both cases the risk of death and disability was greater in the months after infection than in the first 30 days. “It is very clear that long flu is worse than the flu, and Long Covid is worse than Covid,” said Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, who led the research. He was motivated to study the phenomenon after observing the scale of long-term illness experienced by people who have recovered from Covid. “Five years ago, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to examine the possibility of a ‘long flu.’ But one of the major lessons we learned from this pandemic is that a virus we all initially thought could only cause acute disease is leaving millions of people with long Covid, he said. “We wondered whether this could be happening with other things. Could this be happening with the flu, for example?” The research, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that while Covid patients faced a greater risk of death or hospital readmission in the following 18 months, both infections carried a significant risk of ongoing disability and disease. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 December 2023
  3. News Article
    NHS leaders have issued a warning over surging flu cases as the number of patients in hospital with the bug soared by more than 50% in a week. An average of 234 people were in hospital with flu each day last week – up 53% on the previous seven days. Figures from NHS England also showed a rise in norovirus cases in hospitals last week with an average of 406 cases per day, up from 351 the previous week and a 28% rise from last year. The latest data comes after public health officials sent a warning over whooping cough levels, with 719 suspected cases reported between July and November, up from 217 last year. This week several NHS hospitals have sent out alerts to the public warning of “extremely busy” A&Es. Dr Tim Cooksley, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned: “Pressures are being exacerbated by increasing rates of sickness among colleagues, as well as pressures on precious resources such as isolation areas and side rooms, adding to the strain on already overstretched services... “Undoubtedly we will see more older patients enduring prolonged degrading periods of corridor care and many people experiencing difficult symptoms whilst they sit on elective waiting lists. “Most hospitals are already experiencing chaotic and dangerous scenarios.” He added that there was “a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation” from new health secretary Victoria Atkins. Read full story Source: The Independent, 7 December 2023
  4. News Article
    Medics have welcomed clarification from health officials over when the upcoming flu and Covid-19 vaccination programme will begin. NHS England had been criticised for pushing back the start date a month with pharmacists saying the change of plan would likely “catch patients off guard”. While school-aged children will be able to receive the flu shot from 1 September, adults were not expected to start getting flu and Covid jabs until October, a month later than recent years. Officials briefed that the later start time was so sites can co-administer both vaccines wherever possible, to make it more convenient, and to ensure protection in later winter months – typically when viruses are more likely to spread. But NHS England was criticised for a lack of transparency and communication, as healthcare teams had been preparing to provide the service as usual from September. NHS England said to maximise and extend protection during the winter and through the period of greatest risk in December and early January 2024, care home residents and care home staff must start receiving their jabs from 2 October, and other eligible flu and Covid cohorts from 7 October. However, in updated guidance officials said that as some firm commitments and appointments have already been made, any patient wishing to receive their vaccination in September will be allowed to do so. Most people are still likely to have their vaccines in October, officials believe. Responding to news that NHS England will, if needed, now allow practices to deliver both vaccination programmes from September rather than October, Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chair of GPC England at the British Medical Association (BMA), said: “This news is very welcome, coming after the BMA made clear yesterday to NHS England that shifting the entire programme at the last minute to October would not only cause widespread confusion, but also serious disruption as flu clinics would have to be rearranged to fit the new timetable." Read full story Source: inews, 11 August 2023
  5. News Article
    Respiratory syncytial virus is killing 100,000 children under the age of five every year worldwide, new figures reveal as experts say the global easing of coronavirus restrictions is causing a surge in cases. RSV is the most common cause of acute lower respiratory infection in young children. It spreads easily via coughing and sneezing. There is no vaccine or specific treatment. RSV-attributable acute lower respiratory infections led to more than 100,000 deaths of children under five in 2019, according to figures published in the Lancet. Of those, more than 45,000 were under six months old, the first-of-its-kind study found. More children are likely to be affected by RSV in the future, experts believe, because masks and lockdowns have robbed children of natural immunity against a range of common viruses, including RSV. “RSV is the predominant cause of acute lower respiratory infection in young children and our updated estimates reveal that children six months and younger are particularly vulnerable, especially with cases surging as Covid-19 restrictions are easing around the world,” said the study’s co-author, Harish Nair of the University of Edinburgh. “The majority of the young children born in the last two years have never been exposed to RSV (and therefore have no immunity against this virus).” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 May 2022
  6. News Article
    Flu could “bite” months earlier than usual this year, NHS leaders and scientists have warned, leading to calls for millions to get their vaccination against the disease as soon as possible. Around 20 million people in the UK, including all over-50s, will be offered a free jab this winter, as ministers fear the combination of a bad flu season, Covid and a cost of living crisis could lead to a spike in deaths. Saffron Cordery, the interim chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, warned that this year flu had “come early and severely to parts of the southern hemisphere, and we’re going see it here potentially biting in October”. Read full story Source: The Independent (30 August 2022)
  7. News Article
    Simultaneous big waves of Covid and flu - the 'twindemic' experts warned of as people returned to 'normal' pre-pandemic mixing - cost the NHS this winter, say NHS bosses. NHS England chief strategy officer Chris Hopson said hospital pressures in England peaked on 29 December. The workload involved gave hospitals a "significant problem" at the turn of the year, he said. It was at this point that record-long waits at A&E were seen. Since then the pressures have begun to ease a little. Speaking to MPs on the House of Commons' health committee, Mr Hopson said: "The issue was always going to be this winter was the degree to which we saw prevalence of both Covid and flu and the degree to which they combined. "Now we're obviously not through winter yet but the really important point - that I don't think has come out enough - is both Covid and flu peaked so far on 29 December." At the turn of the year one in eight beds were occupied by patients with either Covid or flu. And Mr Hopson added this combined with the 12,000 beds occupied by patients medically fit to leave but unable to be discharged because of the lack of support in the community meant more than a quarter of beds were lost. "It gives a significant problem in terms of patient flow, which then means you get the back up right the way through the system." Read full story Source: BBC News, 24 January 2023
  8. News Article
    The extent of the gridlock in hospitals over Christmas has been revealed, with data in England showing record numbers of ambulances delayed dropping off patients at A&E. More than 40% of crews were forced to wait at least half an hour to hand over patients in the week up to 1 January. That is the highest level since records began a decade ago. But there is hope pressures could soon start easing, with flu and Covid admissions dropping last week. But the UK Health Security Agency is warning it is too early to say whether the flu season - the worst in a decade - has peaked, because reporting lags over the festive period may have affected the data. And Matthew Taylor, of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, said wards were still incredibly full, which was creating delays in A&E and for ambulances. He said hospitals were facing "crisis conditions" that were presenting a risk to patients. Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 January 2023
  9. News Article
    There were more than 3,700 patients a day in hospital with flu last week - up from 520 a day the month before, the latest data from NHS England shows. Of these, 267 people needed specialised care in critical care beds last week. NHS England warns pressures on the health service continue to grow as viruses like flu re-circulate after a hiatus during the pandemic. Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: "Sadly, these latest flu numbers show our fears of a 'twindemic' have been realised, with cases up seven-fold in just a month and the continued impact of Covid hitting staff hard, with related absences up almost 50% on the end of November." He warned this was "no time to be complacent" with the risk of serious illness being "very real" and encouraged those eligible to take up their flu and Covid jabs as soon as possible. Admissions among children under 5 have been high this flu season, as well as among older people. Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 December 2022
  10. News Article
    Up to 500 people are dying every week because of delays in emergency care, Britain’s top accident and emergency doctor has said. Dr Adrian Boyle, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said a bad flu season was compounding systemic problems, leading to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. NHS leaders warned last week that the health service is in the grip of a “twindemic”, with soaring flu admissions and the impact of Covid “hitting staff hard”. Dr Boyle told Times Radio: “If you look at the graphs they all are going the wrong way, and I think there needs to be a real reset. We need to be in a situation where we cannot just shrug our shoulders and say this winter was terrible, let’s do nothing until next winter. “We need to increase our capacity within our hospitals, we need to make sure that there are alternative ways so that people aren’t all just funnelled into the ambulance service and emergency department. We cannot continue like this – it is unsafe and it is undignified.” Read full story Source: The Telegraph, 1 January 2023
  11. News Article
    Flu and Covid are on the rise in England, with experts stressing the importance of vaccination and warning that people who feel unwell should stay at home rather than mingling with others during the festive season. The figures come as cases of scarlet fever and strep A infections continue to rise. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) added that while invasive strep A infections remain rare there have now been a total of 94 deaths in England, including 21 children. Dr Colin Brown, the deputy director at UKHSA, sought to reassure parents. “I understand how this large rise in scarlet fever and ‘strep throat’ may be concerning to parents, however the condition can be easily treated with antibiotics and it is very rare that a child will go on to become more seriously ill,” he said, adding that parents should visit NHS.UK, contact 111 online or their GP surgery if their child has symptoms so they can be assessed for treatment. Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of public health programmes at UKHSA, noted a link between indoor mixing and the rise in cases and hospital admissions for flu and Covid. “Both Covid and flu can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities, and so it is also important to avoid contact with other people if you are unwell in order to help stop infections spreading over the Christmas and new year period,” she said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 December 2022
  12. News Article
    Flu hospitalisations in England have jumped by more than 40 per cent in a week as the NHS braces for one of the worst outbreaks of the virus in recent years. Analysis of NHS data by The Telegraph shows that rates are more than eight times higher than expected at this time of year. On the current trajectory, admissions next week could pass the peak of the 2017-18 outbreak – one of the worst of the last 20 years – which led to nearly 30,000 deaths. Flu hospitalisations are so high that they have overtaken Covid admissions for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The rise could not come at a worse time for the NHS. It is already suffering the biggest treatment backlog in its history, which is set to be exacerbated by strikes by nurses and ambulance paramedics. Read full story Source: The Telegraph, 15 December 2022
  13. News Article
    Children’s hospitals are under strain in the United States as they care for unusually high numbers of kids infected with RSV and other respiratory viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of cold-like illness in young children known as RSV, started surging in late summer, months before its typical season from November to early spring. This month, the United States has been recording about 5,000 cases per week, according to federal data, which is on par with last year but far higher than October 2020, when more coronavirus restrictions were in effect and very few people were getting RSV. Jesse Hackell, a doctor who chairs the committee on practice and ambulatory medicine for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, "It’s very hard to find a bed in a children’s hospital — specifically an intensive care unit bed for a kid with bad pneumonia or bad RSV because they are so full.” Read full story Source: The Washington Post, 21 October 2022
  14. News Article
    Parents are being told to urgently bring their children forward for flu vaccinations as new data reveals the rate of hospitalisation and ICU admission for people with the virus is rising fastest among those under five years old. New figures published in the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) National flu and Covid-19 surveillance report show that cases of flu have climbed quickly in the past week, indicating that the season has begun earlier than normal. According to the UKHSA, vaccination for flu is currently behind last season for pre-schoolers (12.1% from 17.4% in all two-year-olds and 12.8% from 18.6% in all three-year-olds). It has also fallen behind in pregnant women (12.4% from 15.7%) and under 65s in a clinical risk group (18.2% from 20.7%). Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Our latest data shows early signs of the anticipated threat we expected to face from flu this season. “We’re urging parents in particular not to be caught out as rates of hospitalisations and ICU admissions are currently rising fastest in children under 5. “This will be a concern for many parents and carers of young children, and we urge them to take up the offer of vaccination for eligible children as soon as possible.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 October 2022
  15. News Article
    The NHS is setting up “war rooms” as it prepares for one of the toughest winters in its history, officials have announced. In a letter to staff, health leaders in England set out “winter resilience plans”, which include new system control centres that are expected to be created in every local area. These centres will be expected to manage demand and capacity across the entire country by constantly tracking beds and attendances. They will be operated by clinicians and experts who can make quick decisions about emerging challenges in the health service, NHS England said. The data-driven centres will be able to spot when hospitals are near capacity and could benefit from mutual aid. Where A&Es are especially busy, ambulances will be diverted to nearby hospitals with more space. Meanwhile, NHS England announced plans to expand falls response services so people are treated in their homes, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital where possible. NHS England’s chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Winter comes hot on the heels of an extremely busy summer – and with the combined impact of flu, Covid and record NHS staff vacancies – in many ways, we are facing more than the threat of a ‘twindemic’ this year. “So it is right that we prepare as much as possible – the NHS is going further than it ever has before in anticipation of a busy winter, and today we have set out further plans to step up these preparations – building on our existing plans to boost capacity set out in August this year." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 October 2022
  16. News Article
    NHS trusts may be forced to cancel appointments and limit visiting times in a Covid and flu “twindemic” this winter, health leaders have warned. Fears have been raised the viruses could strip back the workforce and further increase demand for services during an already busy period. It comes amid rising Covid infections in the UK. Around 1.3 million tested positive in late September, according to the latest figures, which was a 25% increase on the week before. The UK is also concerned there could be a bad flu season this year, with lower immunity across the population due to reduced exposure in the Covid pandemic. NHS leaders have warned that this background could make winter even more difficult for the health service. “I make no bones about this: we know it’s going to be a pressurised time for trusts over the next four months if not longer,” Saffron Cordery from NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, told The Independent. The interim chief executive added: “We’re worried about Covid and we’re worried about flu.” Ms Cordery said these joint pressures – which could increase demand, strip back workforces and introduce the need for greater infection control measures – could have a knock-on effect on services. “We need to anticipate that there may well be cancellations for either outpatient appointments or routine procedures or operations, because there could be staff shortages or rising demand in emergency care – that means that those routine appointments cannot take place as quickly as we’d like,” she said. Read full story Source: The Independent, 8 October 2022
  17. News Article
    Flu could pose a "significant" threat this winter for the first time since the Covid pandemic, public health expert have warned. There are concerns the flu season may start earlier and affect more people, as other respiratory viruses re-emerge following Covid restrictions. Public Health Wales is urging adults and children who are eligible for a free flu jab to take up the offer. The announcement comes as cases of flu have already been detected in Wales. All children between two and 16 are eligible for a free flu vaccine - although only certain groups of children over five are eligible for Covid-19 boosters. The warning comes after Australia experienced its highest number of flu cases in five years, with its season starting early. Experts fear Wales and the UK could see similar levels this winter. Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 September 2022
  18. News Article
    Parents of children under five are being urged to get them a flu vaccine after a 70% jump in hospitalisations. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said an 11% fall in the uptake of the vaccine among two and three-year-olds came as flu circulated at higher levels than in previous years. Anjali and Ben Wildblood from Bristol saw their two-year-old son Rafa become "very sick" with flu just days before he was due to have the vaccine. The pair, who are both NHS consultants, said their concerns prompted them to take him to A&E where he was treated and sent home. "But his condition got worse again, with a soaring temperature and exhaustion - he had no strength whatsoever and what was so extremely worrying was that he barely had the strength to breathe - every parent's worst nightmare," they said. After returning to hospital, Rafa was admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit where he was put under general anaesthetic and intubated. Covid restrictions have meant most young children have never encountered flu and have no natural immunity to the virus, the UKHSA said. This increased risk has coincided with the uptake of the flu vaccine among two-year-olds standing at 31% and 33% among three-year-olds. All children under five can get vaccinated at their GP surgery. Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 November 2022
  19. News Article
    With flu cases rising, UK Covid scientists are turning their attention to finding the best life-saving drugs to fight the winter virus. A trial will run across 150 hospitals this year and next, recruiting thousands of patients. Flu vaccines help prevent infection but each year some people become very sick. And antiviral tablets - given within a couple of days of symptoms developing - are designed to reduce the severity of these bad infections. One of the pills the Imperial College London team will be testing is oseltamivir, or Tamiflu. It is recommended to treat severe flu - but whether it saves lives is unclear. Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, the Randomised, Embedded, Multi-factorial, Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (Remap-Cap) will study how good the treatments are at reducing deaths and intensive care admissions. Chief investigator Prof Anthony Gordon told BBC News: "We want to learn at pace what works, just like we did during Covid. "We'll test multiple treatments in different combinations. Some are antivirals that stop the virus, others are steroids or other treatments that work on how the body responds to infections. "We hope that our trial will help to find urgently needed flu treatments rapidly. Our Covid trial changed clinical practice globally and we hope we can impact flu treatment and reduce winter pressures on the NHS in the same way." Read full story Source: BBC News, 29 November 2022
  20. News Article
    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.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 24 November 2022
  21. News Article
    NHS England is investigating a “potential serious incident” in its flu programme following concerns that people aged 65 and over are being given a vaccination jab known to be ineffective for this age group. Details of the investigation were set out in a letter by NHS England’s South East regional team. The letter, seen by HSJ, said: “The NHS regional direct commissioning team are investigating reported administration of QIVe flu vaccine to patients aged 65 years or older by a number of primary care providers (primary care and pharmacy) across the region. QIVe is not recommended for use in this age group due to its poor effectiveness.” It said officials were contacting practices and pharmacists directly where there was a record of QIVe vaccine having been given to the older age cohort to identify whether this is a recording coding error, or a genuine administration of QIVe. Initial investigations “suggest a mixture of both”, it said. The letter added: “If any patient 65 or over has received QIVe, we will be asking the practice or pharmacist to treat this as an incident. Patients will need to be contacted, informed of the error, its potential implications and offered the opportunity to receive a vaccine which is appropriate for their age group." It is unclear how many patients have been given the wrong jab. Read full story Source: HSJ, 8 November 2022
  22. News Article
    US influenza hospital admissions have hit the highest rate in a decade as vaccinations sag, US officials say. They said adults have received five million fewer influenza jabs this year compared with the same time last year. Health experts are worried a so-called tripledemic of flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and coronavirus could swamp hospitals this winter. At least 730 people have died of flu this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While older people are the most vulnerable age group, at least four children are among the dead. CDC data shows there have been at least 1.6 million flu cases overall and some 13,000 people have been taken to hospital. This season's severity has not been matched at this point in the year since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit the US in 2009. "There's no doubt we will face some challenges this winter," Dawn O'Connell, the US Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said at a media briefing on Friday. Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 November 2022
  23. News Article
    Most people in England, about 30 million, are to be offered a free flu vaccine this year, the government says. It is to prepare for a winter that could see the annual flu season coincide with a surge in coronavirus. The traditional flu programme will include all over-50s for the first time, as well anyone on the shielding list and the people they live with. Also for the first time, children in their first year of secondary school will all be offered the vaccine. Plans for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet been announced. Read full article here
  24. News Article
    Emergency attendances for several conditions are still well below their normal levels, despite a steady increase in overall activity since the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. Weekly data from Public Health England suggests overall A&E attendances increased to around 105,000 in the last week of May, which was an increase from 98,813 over the previous seven days. Data from the 77 A&E departments included in the research suggests that overall attendances are up to an average of 15,000 day, compared to around 10,000 at the peak of the pandemic and the long-term trend of just under 20,000. However, attendances for bronchitis, acute respiratory infections, respiratory, pneumonia, asthma, gastroenteritis are still far below their normal levels. It did not offer an explanation for why attendances for these conditions have remained low, while those for cardiac, influenza, myocardial Ischaemia, and gastrointestinal problems have returned to normal levels or above. Read full story Source: HSJ, 5 June 2020
  25. News Article
    An outbreak of norovirus on hospital wards across the NHS has forced the closure of more than 1,100 beds in the last week. The news comes amid record numbers of patients turning up to emergency departments at some hospitals and higher than expected cases of flu. There are fears the dire situation could herald the start of a winter crisis for the NHS which is starting earlier than in previous years. Miriam Deakin, Director of Policy and Strategy at NHS Providers, which represents hospitals said: “We are going into what is traditionally the NHS’s busiest time with a health and care system already under severe demand pressure." “Patient safety is the top priority for trusts, but alongside high levels of staff vacancies, an outbreak of flu or norovirus could have a serious effect on the delivery of services.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 5 December 2019
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