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Flu deaths in Britain double last year

Jan. 16, 2011 at 8:52 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The number of deaths from swine flu in Britain this winter has doubled and the National Health Service is in gridlock, medical officials said.

Dozens of hospitals across Britain have canceled non-emergency surgery to care for the high number of flu patients, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

This winter 110 people have died from swine flu, twice the number from a year ago and scores of hospital wards were closed because of norovirus, a winter bug that causes nausea and vomiting.

Hospitals in Cambridge and Norfolk were on "black alert" for more than two weeks, meaning they could not accept non-emergency patients.

In the past 10 days, major hospitals in London, Liverpool, Surrey, Southampton, Derby, Peterborough, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth issued the same warning.

"My frustration is that so much of this is predictable," said John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine. "This did not come out of the blue and yet the planning is inadequate -- as though there is a sense of denial about it. The planning this winter has been far less effective than last year."

Heyworth said emergency rooms were hit by a "dramatic increase" in demand not just because of the increase in patients suffering flu complications, but because less serious cases went there when a general practitioner couldn't see them.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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