Intensive care beds shortage fear19th November 2009
Experts have warned that swine flu could lead to a shortage of intensive care beds for children over the winter.
Researchers from Cambridge University have based their forecast on official government predictions looking at how hospitals in the UK will to cope with the swine flu outbreak as the weather gets colder.
Indications are that during a peak week of cases, half of the 300-plus beds could be occupied by swine flu patients.
This, they say, would put strain on units that often run close to capacity, though the government believes in general the NHS should be able to cope with some emergency measures in place.
Lead researcher Dr Roddy O'Donnell said: "Paediatric intensive care will be one of the first areas of the NHS to feel the pressure.
"The peak could put a real strain on hospitals and will require contingencies to be put in place. Patients may not get the same level of nursing as they normally would."
Writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, the Cambridge team estimates that in a peak week of cases, 49% of beds across the 25 regional centres could be taken up by swine flu patients compared to 10% at present.
Hospitals have been told to establish plans to double the number of intensive care beds to meet demand but while plans are in place for adults, meeting demand of child cases is more difficult.
The Department of Health believes hospitals should be able to cope if they cancel elective operations or move patients around the country.
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Title: Intensive care beds shortage fear
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 13323
Date Added: 19th Nov 2009