Hope for hospitals as flu cases drop and ambulance delays are the shortest so far.
An average of 3,447 flu patients were on wards in England last week, compared with 5,262 in the seven days to 8 January, according to the NHS.
It was the second week in a row that beds occupied by flu victims fell after the number of hospitalizations reached its highest level in 10 years during the week leading up to Christmas.
The hospitalization rate for people over 85 fell from 45.2 per 100,000 population last week to 24.7 this week.
For children under five, it also dropped from 14.3 to 5.7 per 100,000 population.
But Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunization at the UK Health Security Agency, warned that this year’s flu season could drag on longer than usual.
She said: “The pandemic disrupted the normal seasonal timing of many infections so we could see flu activity outside of the normal winter period – another reason to start vaccinating now.”
The drop in blood pressure comes from the fact that 96 percent of adult beds in general and emergency hospitals are occupied.
Last week, more than 14,000 beds were occupied by patients who, for health reasons, were fit for discharge, but were stuck in the hospital waiting for social or community assistance.
NHS England National Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powys said: “The NHS continues to be under significant pressure.
“Hospitals have almost a record number of people who are at risk of leaving the hospital for health reasons, and a large number of beds are occupied in hospitals across England.
“The National Health Service has made extensive preparations for this winter, deploying extra beds and nationwide command centers operating 24/7 to monitor and
High bed occupancy has a domino effect for patients admitted from the emergency department, some of whom have been waiting for a bed for several days.
However, there were signs that ambulance turnaround times have improved as delays have shrunk to the lowest levels seen this winter.
About 23% of ER patients last week waited at least 30 minutes to be transferred to emergency teams, up from 36% the previous week and a record 44% in the week to Jan. 1.
Nine percent of patients waited in an ambulance for over an hour, also the lowest this winter and up from 19 percent a week.
The total number of hours lost due to ambulance delays also fell by more than three-fifths in a week, from 36,000 to 14,000.
A report released yesterday by the House of Lords Public Services Committee warned that emergency medical services were “deadlocked and overwhelmed, unable to provide safe care”.
It said that patients who struggled to contact their GP or access other support were adding to the pressure on emergency departments. And a lack of social assistance opportunities and overcrowded hospitals mean ambulances are stuck in lines, unable to answer 999 calls.
The report calls for “urgent action” by the government and the COBRA committee to resolve the crisis. He added: “We need decision makers to work together to handle this emergency by providing the system with the resources it needs.
“This means interagency attention and accountability from the prime minister.”
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine welcomed the report and called for urgent action to increase the NHS workforce, invest in social care and expand
Dr. Adrian Boyle, President of RCEM, said: “It is time for the government to face this terrible crisis, finally recognize its depth and take the necessary meaningful action to overcome it.”
Meanwhile, Dr Leila McKay, policy director for the NHS Confederation, warned that further strikes by nurses and ER workers would add to the tension.
on the National Health Service.
She added: “With EMTs and nurses set to go on strike day next month, this winter is still looking bleak. The war of attrition between the government and the unions has been going on for too long and must be resolved.”
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