Toll of flu patients rockets as 111 calls are near record high

Group A Strep – what you need to know

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An average of 1,939 people were hospitalised with the condition each day last week, up 67 percent on 1,162 the previous week, according to NHS England.

It is also a sharp increase on the daily average of 482 at the end of November.

But there has also been a surge in flu patients taking up vital critical care beds, with the daily average in England at 149 last week – up 72 percent from the previous week.

This time last year, the NHS had only two flu patients a day in critical care and 32 in general beds.

Separate data shows there were 721,301 calls to NHS 111 services last week, up from 706,129 the week before.

NHS England said this was a “near-record” level of demand and “significantly” more than usual for this time of year, up almost 60 percent from the equivalent week in 2021.

The rise in demand is understood to be partly driven by parents concerned about the symptoms of Strep A, a bacteria that causes feverish symptoms.

It comes at a time of unprecedented NHS strikes over pay and conditions, with nurses and paramedics all taking industrial action in recent days.

Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive at NHS Providers, said: “Trust leaders are expecting this Christmas to be one of their darkest to date.

“As they work hard to mitigate the impact of ongoing strike action, they are also having to contend with an incredibly long list of other serious challenges. The number of flu patients in hospital has jumped up by two-thirds in the last week.

“After very few flu cases in the last two years, in part due to social distancing during the pandemic, this flu season is looking far more severe.

“The surge in flu has impacted bed occupancy, which continues to be above levels considered safe.

“More patients are also staying longer in hospital, which puts a massive strain on the entire health and care system.”

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