Merseyside hospitals cancel operations after surge of flu cases
HOSPITALS have cancelled non-emergency operations as Merseyside fights a rise in serious swine flu cases.
Latest figures from NHS North West showed there are currently 35 people in critical care in Merseyside and Cheshire with flu.
The cancellation step was taken to free up space so more beds are available for seriously-ill respiratory patients.
Health chiefs are refusing to reveal an official figure for how many people have died from swine flu, but at least eight people have fallen victim in the region so far.
They include teenager Olivia Rae Clee-Barnett, from Wirral, and mum-of-two Kay Burdett, from Old Swan.
Paula Grey, director of public health in Liverpool, told the ECHO the cancellation of non-emergency operations was standard practice when levels of flu became high.
Each individual hospital will rearrange the affected appointments.
She said: We are seeing a higher number of cases than in some previous years, but they are not worryingly high.
“Our health services have to adapt and be flexible, and obviously those seriously ill are a priority.”
Mike Rushworth, 65, has waited since July for his gall bladder to be removed.
He was set for an operation at Southport Hospital this month.
Wife Sue, 63, said: “He has gall stones and he just feels like it is so full and it is going to burst.
“It is very worrying. We do not want it to be an emergency.
Health chiefs said they expected more cases as children return to school next week.
Yesterday the ECHO revealed many GP surgeries and chemists had run out of the flu vaccine.
Dr Grey said that was being addressed, adding: “In terms of the vaccine, we are making sure they are moved around and they will get to those who need them.
“If you are in an at risk group, please still come forward to your GP for a vaccine, you will get one.
“We want to urge people not to panic about flu.
“If you are a healthy person and catch it, you should not be going to a hospital or taking up a vaccine when somebody with underlying health problems might need it.” THE ECHO