Flu hits working age adults harder as hospitals see the number of beds taken up by sufferers increase
Sunday 1st November, 2009
The latest flu epidemic is hitting working age adults harder, as hospitals see a near 20-fold increase in the total number of bed days taken up by sufferers, new figures from The NHS Information Centre reveal.
Figures for July 2009 show the number of bed days taken up by flu increased to 3,976 – nearly 20 times higher than the same month in 2008 when the number of bed days taken up by the virus stood at 207.
The preceding months, June and May, also saw increases over 2008 in the number of bed days taken up by flu, at 335 (118 percent) and 113 (26 percent) respectively.
The figures also show that the pattern of bed days occupied by different age groups appears to be changing from 2008.
Whereas in the three months to July 2008, 40 percent of bed days were taken up by the very young (16 or under), this reduced to 31 percent in same period in 2009. Bed days occupied by those aged 60 or over accounted for 40 percent of the total in 2008 but only 22 percent in 2009.
Working age adults (those aged 17 to 59) showed the biggest change in percentage; in the three month to July 2008 they represented 19 percent of all bed days, increasing to 46 percent during the same period in 2009.
Chief Executive of The NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said: “These new figures reveal the rapid increase in the demands on hospitals due to the flu virus in July this year.
“The peak in bed days taken up by flu in July 2009 is especially interesting as this is outside the normal flu season. In the preceding months though increasing slowly; bed days attributed to flu were significantly lower. We will continue to monitor demand for beds to help the NHS gain a better understanding of the pressures caused by the current flu outbreak.”
The figures are part of a new special topic from Provisional Monthly HES for Admitted Patient Care (www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/provisionalmonthlyhes) which is now published monthly to provide up-to-date information and demonstrate approximate trends. Information is provisional, has not been subject to final checks and revisions ahead of annual publication and can be subject to change. This is particularly true of the latest month (July 2009). Previous provisional data has been slightly lower than the final data published in annual publications.