Under pressure: Hospitals to treat three times more flu patients than 2023

New figures have warned that mounting pressures on NHS hospitals this winter are ‘not letting up’, with thousands more patients in hospital compared to this time last year.

The research, which is updated weekly, has found that there were 3,372 more patients in hospital each day last week (97,934) than the same period in 2023 (94,562).

man in black crew neck t-shirt wearing black and white mask

Although the UK government have previously claimed that the NHS were in a better position this winter – they have been supplied with over 2,700 additional beds compared to the same week last year (103,557 versus 100,855) – bed occupancy has been reported as increasingly higher, with 94.6% of general and acute beds occupied in the week ending 11th February, up from 93.8% last year.

In addition, the weekly data, which was published yesterday, displayed that there were three times as many flu patients in hospital every day last week (2,390) than in the same week last year (737).

Against this backdrop, it was also uncovered than an average of 48,482 staff were off work each day last week, including 1,513 absences each day related to Covid-19.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: ‘It is clear that the significant pressure the NHS has been experiencing this winter is not letting up, with thousands more beds occupied and three times as many flu patients as last year, on top of continued high demand for ambulance services and NHS 111.

‘The robust measures in our urgent and emergency care recovery plan and early winter planning have ensured we have more beds in place this year compared to last, and innovations like our Virtual Ward Programme and same day emergency care units are helping. But there is no doubt staff are continuing to face one of their busiest winters ever.’

The research also shows that hospital capacity was exacerbated by 13,776 beds being taken up each day by patients who were medically fit to be discharged. Establishments such as care homes have also reached max capacity, so it has become extremely challenging finding places for these particular patients.

Following this, there were 91,225 ambulance handovers to hospital last week, up 17% from 78,241 last year. NHS call handlers also answered 376,597 calls to 111, up 11% from 338,564 on the same week last year.

Professor Powis added: ‘The public can play their part by continuing to only use 999 and A&E in an emergency and using 111 online or local pharmacies and GP services for other conditions.’

Images: Usman Yousaf and Kelly Sikkema

More on this topic:

Long A&E wait times could become normalised, new research shows

New app results in 25% fewer emergency hospital admissions from care homes


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