EIGHTY operations were postponed this week at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to make way for patients with flu and other respiratory illnesses.
As hospitals across the country respond to high levels of seasonal flu, including swine flu, managers in Sheffield were contacting parents to rearrange the non-urgent operations “as soon as possible”.
Isabel Hemmings, chief operating officer at the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Intensive care has been busy in the last two weeks but this is not unexpected for the time of year as we usually have additional patients in the winter months.
“We have taken the decision to postpone approximately 80 elective – planned – operations this week including those patients who need to stay in critical care following their operation. This is to help manage a very busy workload for our dedicated and hard-working staff.
“The postponed operations also include day case surgery – where patients do not need an overnight stay – which will resume at the end of the week.”
Mrs Hemmings added: “The vast majority of children recover quickly from flu viruses including swine flu (H1N1) and do not require hospital admission.
“However, there are a small number of children usually with underlying health issues, who may require hospital admission. Some of these children are more seriously ill and need intensive care. Anyone who is concerned about flu symptoms should contact their GP, who will determine the most appropriate action to take.”
Meanwhile the flu vaccination programme is being extended in line with direction from the Government’s Department of Health.
Dr Paul Redgrave, deputy director of Public Health, NHS Sheffield, said: “Community pharmacists are working with GPs to ensure that at-risk groups are vaccinated, as far as is possible. Some pharmacists have undertaken specialised training in order to be able to provide the seasonal flu vaccine.
“The H1N1 vaccine is being made available for GPs to use where stocks of seasonal flu vaccine are low. This year most flu cases are H1N1.
“The best advice for patients who are seeking the vaccine is to speak to their GP practice to determine if they are in the ‘at risk’ group.”