Flu hospital cases up ten times on last year's figures, with 'tripledemic' threat 'very real'

The NHS warned bed occupancy and use of emergency services is high, as the flu season comes early. Credit: PA

Ten times more patients were in hospital with flu in England compared to this time last year, new NHS figures have revealed.

NHS England released its first weekly winter update on Thursday, highlighting that an average of 344 patients were in hospital with flu each day last week.

That is more than 10 times the number seen at the beginning of last December.

It follows a warning that the NHS is facing a 'tripledemic' threat of Covid, flu and record demand for emergency services.

Last month was the busiest October ever for A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance callouts.

Thursday's NHS figures show bed occupancy is high, with levels at 95% for adult general and acute beds and 80% for adult critical care.

Over 13,000 beds a day were taken up last week by patients who no longer needed one – an increase compared with the first week of December last year (10,510).

The pressure was compounded by staff sickness, with nearly 360,000 staff absent from work last week.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “The first weekly data this year shows the considerable pressure faced by staff before we enter what is likely to be the NHS’s most challenging winter ever.

“The figures also show that flu is unfortunately already with us and so the concerns that we had about the threat of a ‘tripledemic’ are very real.

“Hospitals continue to contend with more patients coming in than going out, with thousands of patients everyday in hospital who are medically fit for discharge, and so we continue to work with colleagues in social care to do everything possible to ensure people can leave hospital when they are ready."

Professor Sir Stephen also urged those eligible to come forward and get their flu jab.

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