NHS can double critical care capacity for swine flu

The NHS has the ability to double the critical care capacity in the event of a significant surge in swine flu cases, England's director for flu resilience Ian Dalton has said.

Ian Dalton
Ian Dalton

Every NHS region has confirmed that it could double available critical care capacity for a sustained period of 8-10 weeks.

In addition to this, hospitals are also exploring other ways to increase capacity, such as the temporary postponement of some planned surgery and appointments.

A swine flu critical care clinical group will be set up to advise upon the management, logistics and clinical issues associated with an increase in the demand and supply for critical care services.

The group will be chaired by Dr Judith Hulf, the president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, and will come together for its first meeting on Friday.

Both Scotland and Wales announced that they too would be able to double their critical care bed capacity if needed.

A consultation on temporary changes to the Mental Health Act will also be launched which could see a change from the two doctor requirement to one doctor for sectioning of mental health patients. The measures are being explored as a way of dealing with severe staff absences.

Elsewhere, the number of cases of swine flu in England continues to fall with just 3,000 cases confirmed this week.

Five new deaths were reported in England bring the overall UK total to 75.




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