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Thursday 20th October 2016

Critical care flu planning is a weak link

8th September 2009

The Conservative Party have said that replies to a Freedom of Information request have revealed problems in critical care plans for the swine flu pandemic.

swine flu

80% of hospitals in England replied to the request and the resulting data showed that many intensive care units were "already under pressure" before the start of the pandemic.

The Tories said that 60% of units could be faced with a situation where demand for beds and care outstripped the amount available.

More than 3,600 critical care beds exist in England. Of this number 2,000 are defined as offering "level three" care, which means they can care for multiple organ failure (which can affect swine flu patients).

The Tories' data found that on average almost one third of level three beds were constantly occupied.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "If the second wave of swine flu occurs this could cause real problems. The government urgently needs to review its plans in order to help the NHS provide extra beds to deal with the pandemic and ease the pressure on intensive care units."

Ian Dalton, national director for NHS Flu Resilience, said: "We have asked the NHS to double capacity if needed and plans are well advanced in every region to do this - a proportionate response based on what we know about the virus." 

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