Surge in flu patients and ambulance delays deeply worrying

06 January 2023

Responding to today's winter situation report from NHS England, which shows flu cases in hospital have jumped up by 47% and ambulance handover delays have increased, Miriam Deakin, interim deputy chief executive and director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers said:

"With seasonal pressures at their peak, we're seeing a deeply worrying surge in beds occupied by flu patients. Along with ongoing COVID-19 infections, more people are requiring medical care at a time when the number of beds and staff is falling far short of what's needed.

"Bed occupancy remains unacceptably high, and we're still seeing a high number of patients stay in hospital when they're medically fit to leave. This is putting a massive strain on the entire health and care system.

"The 44% increase in ambulance handovers delayed by 30 minutes or more is also extremely concerning. Staff across ambulance, acute, mental health and community services are anxious that strikes will further disrupt an already challenging situation. Trust leaders are doing all they can to deliver safe, high-quality care for patients, but they cannot weather the storm alone.

"The government needs to talk to union bosses urgently about pay to avert more strikes, as well as publish a fully funded and costed workforce plan to address the huge staff shortages. We also urge everyone offered a COVID-19 booster or flu vaccine to get jabbed to combat the risk of serious illness and to help to ease pressure on health services."

You can follow our analysis of the latest winter figures from NHS England through our NHS Winter Watch campaign.