NHS saw 60% surge in demand last week as Strep A outbreak sweeps UK

DESPERATE Parents flood NHS phone lines in panic over children’s Strep A outbreak.

Calls to 111 rose to 706,129 last week – a 60 percent increase from 440,047 the previous week.

Concerned parents have flooded NHS phone lines in the wake of Strep A outbreaks across the country

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Concerned parents have flooded NHS phone lines in the wake of Strep A outbreaks across the countryPhoto credit: Getty

Only in the first two weeks of the Covid pandemic have there been more calls, NHS data shows.

At least 17 children have been confirmed or suspected to have died from Strep A since September.

Last week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said 16 children have died from the disease.

Public Health Wales and Powys Teaching Health Board are investigating whether another child’s death is linked to invasive Strep A infection. If confirmed, the total will increase to 17.

Pharmacists say the supply of antibiotics is getting worse due to a surge in demand.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England, said: “This huge increase in calls to NHS 111 is understandable given concerns about winter viruses, including Strep A.

“It’s more important than ever that the public use 111 online wherever possible.”

Britons’ growing concern comes as nurses across the country went on picket line today to reach an agreement on pay.

The health service said it had prepared extensively for both strikes and the winter, and was developing plans to cope with the extra demand.

Prof Powis added: “With industrial action planned today and next week, NHS teams are working hard to minimize disruption and while people may see their local services impacted they are having to face a life-threatening emergency during strikes continue to call 999 and attend pre-booked appointments as scheduled unless contacted to re-arrange.

“Earlier this month I warned of a ‘perfect storm’ of winter pressure but the NHS has prepared like never before with the rollout of fall response services, system control centres, extra equivalent beds and extra call workers so please get in touch for the care you need and receive your Covid and flu vaccines if you are eligible.

Both the flu and Covid continue to circulate, and data shows that the number of patients with flu in general and the daily use of acute care beds has increased by a third in the past week compared to the previous week.

The number of patients with the most severe flu also rose, with 87 patients in intensive care beds – almost 50 percent more than in the previous week.

Data from the UKHSA has previously confirmed that cases of flu have been rising and has urged those entitled to come in for their flu shot.

Parents are also asked to take advantage of the offer of flu nasal spray vaccination for their children at school events or in communal catch-up clinics.

It’s particularly important as the NHS says viral infections like the flu put you at higher risk of contracting Strep A infections.

Guidelines state that Strep A infections are spread through close contact with an infected person.

They can then be transmitted through coughing and sneezing or through a wound.

Group A Streptococcus – Streptococcus pyogenes – is a bacterium that can cause mild illness.

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These include sore throats and skin infections, as well as tonsillitis, cellulitis and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and occurs in children – it can be serious if not treated quickly with antibiotics.

In rare cases, the bacteria can cause invasive streptococcal A disease, which can be life-threatening and even fatal.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/6922159/nhs-demand-last-strep-a-outbreak-sweeps-uk/ NHS saw 60% surge in demand last week as Strep A outbreak sweeps UK

Emma James

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