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Flu rates

Published: 04 Jan 2018 17:34

Figures show rates are rising.

The number of people suffering from flu in Scotland has more than doubled compared to the same time last year.

New statistics published by Health Protection Scotland (HPS) show around 46 Scots in every 100,000 were suffering from the virus during the last week in December 2017. This compares to 22 in every 100,000 for the same week in 2016.

Early testing also shows that just over half of the circulating strains of flu match those in the 2017/18 vaccine.

The report also highlights that around half of NHS Boards are reporting significant ward pressure as a result of the virus.

Health Minister Shona Robison has thanked health staff across Scotland for their ongoing dedication and hard work throughout this exceptionally busy winter period.

She said:

“Health staff across Scotland are dedicated to helping patients and are doing  a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. These figures show once again the challenges they are tackling.

“So far the vaccine is proving to be effective against the most commonly encountered flu strains this season although it is still too early to have a complete picture -but there’s no doubt that the increase in cases, particularly affecting people with complex and multiple conditions, is putting increased pressure on our systems.

“This is contributing to a big rise in demand for NHS services that staff are responding to. In the final week of 2017, A&E attendances rose by 20% compared to the same period last year, the Scottish Ambulance Service reported an almost 40% increase in the number of calls on Hogmanay alone, and NHS 24 received more than 45,000 calls in the four days over Christmas -  almost double the number of calls in the same period last year.

“Our £22.4m winter funding, the highest amount in any one year, will continue to be invested in Boards throughout winter to help them cope with pressures. Scottish Government Ministers, clinicians and senior officials are continuing monitor the situation closely and keep in contact with Boards to fully understand and assist with the pressures they are under.

“It is important for patients to be aware that while health boards continue to take all appropriate steps to respond to increased demand in line with their winter plans – which may include some deferral of non-urgent elective surgery – there is no blanket cancellation of non-urgent elective procedures for the month of January as is the case in England.

“The public can also support our NHS staff by following the sensible health advice that is available through NHS Inform.”

Background

Weekly flu statistics are published by Health Protection Scotland.

  • Across Scotland, 26,569 people visited A&E in the week ending 24th December, up almost 20% or over 4,000 attendances on the same week last year.
  • The Ambulance Service has experienced a big increase in demand - for example, Control Centres received 2,565 calls between 7pm on 31st December and 7am on 1st January.  This is an increase of 38.4% compared to the same time last year.
  • NHS 24 received more than 45,000 calls in the four days over Christmas. The total is almost double the number of calls in the same period last year, with thousands more calls being taken over the new year period.