‘HEIGHTENED concerns’ have been raised by hospital bosses about a strain of flu which could be deadliest to hit the UK in 50 years.
South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) chief executive Glen Burley says the UK usually follows the same impact of flu as felt in Australia.
And during their winter the number of deaths from the virus was more nearly three times that of the year before, when 27 people died from the illness. This winter more than 72 have died and some 170,000 cases been confirmed.
There have also been some reports that the flu jab does not work on the strain of flu, but Mr Burley says this is not the case.
He said: “The impact of winter on system flow is always a worry but this year there is a degree of heightened concern linked to the potential impact of flu.
“We generally follow the experiences of the winter in the southern hemisphere and this year there has been a particularly virulent strain of flu which has hit Australia and New Zealand quite hard.
“There have been some suggestions that the seasonal vaccine might be a poor match to the circulating strain, however indications from Australia are that it is a moderate to good match.”
He also says staff will be prepared for a busy winter and encouraged to be vaccinated against the virus.
Last year Warwick Hospital revealed improvements to keep outbreaks of both flu and the winter vomiting bug norovirus – which often causes ward closures – at bay.
One of the changes is the introduction of isolation ‘pods’, which are designed to separate vulnerable or contagious patients. They are a solution to the lack of space in the building, which meant extra side rooms could not be built.
Hospital chiefs had 11 of the pods constructed. Each one fits in a bay and consists of a wall and door instead of the traditional curtain.
Extra sinks have also been installed around the hospital to encourage hand washing, which is essential to get rid of germs including norovirus which cannot be killed by using hand gel alone.
Visit www.nhs.uk for more information on both viruses.