Flu outbreaks added to winter pressures in the NHS

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A series of flu outbreaks in hospitals and care homes in Wakefield created extra pressure for local health services last winter.

A council report said that the spread of the virus at Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, as well as at residential homes in the district, contributed to bed-blocking at the beginning of the year.

It meant that in some cases, new patients were turned away from care homes and there was a shortage of overnight space in the hospitals.

The problems were reflected in other parts of the country.

The report said that more people needed to be given the NHS flu jab, which is free for the over 65s, pregnant women and full-time carers.

The report, prepared for Wakefield Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “During the winter (2017/18) there was an increase in people with influenza in hospital and care homes, in line with the national trend.

As well as the impact on people who contracted influenza, this contributed to MYHT’s bed pressures and care homes capacity to receive new patients.

“There is a need to further improve flu vaccination rates from the current levels which are comparable with the national average.”

In February, it was revealed that doctors in England had been asked to prepare a different type of flu vaccine ahead of next winter.

The new jab will have an extra ingredient which will improve patients’ immunity to the virus, experts say.

David Spereall , Local Democracy Reporting Service