Winter figures reveal a significant increase in flu and ambulance handover delays

22 December 2022

Responding to the latest winter sit-rep figures from NHS England today, which show flu cases have risen and ambulance handover delays have increased, 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 compared to recent years before the pandemic.

"The surge in flu has impacted bed occupancy, which continues to be above levels considered safe. More patients are also staying longer in hospital due to greater severity of illness and delayed discharges, which remain a real concern and puts a massive strain on the entire health and care system, including community care and social services.

"Demand for mental health services has also grown significantly since the pandemic, while community services continue to support a backlog of patients waiting for care.

"With ambulance handover delays having increased by a third in the last week, trust leaders are extremely worried as strike action threatens to aggravate an already deeply challenging situation. We urge the government to talk to unions about pay as soon as possible."

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