Flu warning: Nanny State NHS tells Brits to 'avoid granny' this Christmas in desperate bid to ease hospital crisis

Flu warning: The public is being warned not to mix with vulnerable relatives if they are unwell
Flu warning: The public is being warned not to mix with vulnerable relatives if they are unwell
Victoria Jones
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 23/12/2022

- 10:17

Updated: 23/12/2022

- 10:20

Urgent warning as thousands of Brits in hospital following spike in flu cases

Brits are being urged to not mix with vulnerable older relatives over Christmas if they feel unwell in a bid to keep people out of hospital.

The NHS has seen a sharp increase in cases of the flu and hospitalisations as medical chiefs warn the public to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Following a series of strikes, the health service is bracing for its ‘darkest’ festive period as it faces a flu surge and a bed-blocking crisis.

According to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), flu rates are highest in children aged five to 14 years old.

Hospital admission rates in England. See story HEALTH Flu. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.
Christmas: Flu rates have overtaken Covid cases in recent days
PA Graphics

But hospital admission and intensive care rates have also risen compared to last week with the main increase seen in adults over the age of 85.

Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: "We are seeing a rise in cases and hospital admissions for both flu and Covid-19 as people continue to mix indoors this winter.

"Both Covid-19 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."

Ambulance handover delays at A&E are currently worst on record and enquires to the 111 NHS helpline have reached an all-time high.

Eight in ten ambulances were delayed or didn’t arrive during industrial action by ambulance workers earlier this week and thousands of operations and appointments were hit by nurses strikes.

NHS bosses have warned that the service is expected to oversee an “unsafe” number of patients on wards alongside a “skeleton” of staff.

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

Hospital wards across England now have 2,515 infected patients, including 186 in intensive care.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA, said: “Hospitalisations have increased dramatically in those aged 75 and over in the past week, with admissions among children under 5 remaining high. ICU admissions have also increased this week.

“NHS services are already under pressure so it’s more important than ever to get protected with the flu vaccine and help keep yourself out of hospital.”

A general view of the Accident and Emergency department at Craigavon Area Hospital near Belfast. The hospital has become the latest health facility to appeal for support in freeing up beds. It was described as operating under extreme pressure on Tuesday evening, with 138 patients waiting in emergency department (ED) and ambulances queued outside. The Southern Health Trust has asked for all patients and families to support the hospital by freeing up beds required for very sick patients. Picture date: Tuesday November 15, 2022.
A&E: NHS staff are expected to be under great pressure over the festive period
Liam McBurney

Experts have also warned members of the public of flu-like “super cold” which millions up and down the country can seem to shift.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “As well as the impact of industrial action, it is clear that the NHS is facing enormous pressure ahead of Christmas with the number of flu cases in hospital and in intensive care rising week-on-week.

“This is on top of significant increases in staff sickness rates and near-record demand for services like 111.

“With more industrial action scheduled for next week, there will be disruption but we urge the public to continue to use services wisely.”

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