Nurses have come under increasing pressure already this year as hospital stays due to flu have rocketed to unprecedented levels.
Figures for July 2009 show the number of bed days taken up by flu increased to 3,976 – nearly 20 times higher than the same month in 2008 when the number of bed days taken up by the virus stood at 207.
The preceding months, June and May, also saw increases over 2008 in the number of bed days taken up by flu, at 335 (118 per cent) and 113 (26 per cent) respectively, according to the NHS Information Centre.
Tim Straughan, Information Centre chief executive , said: “These new figures reveal the rapid increase in the demands on hospitals due to the flu virus in July this year.
“The peak in bed days taken up by flu in July 2009 is especially interesting as this is outside the normal flu season,” he added.