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Eric Crockart reports on the situation in Aberdeen
"The hospital wants just one relative to ring for information"
 real 28k

Alan Hogarth, CBI Scotland, on Radio 5 Live
"There's no point people sitting at their desks coughing and spluttering"
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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 13:04 GMT
Flu ravages Scotland

Staff on phone Hospital staff in Aberdeen take calls from relatives

Scotland is being ravaged by the flu with a number of hospitals reporting record levels of admissions.

Hospitals in Edinburgh, Livingston and Aberdeen say they have seen unprecedented levels of admissions which are being attributed to the flu.

Businesses are being hit as they start up again after the extended festive period to find their employees calling in sick.

According to CBI Scotland one large Ayrshire based paper manufacturer reported 20% of workers due on shift on Wednesday reported sick.

Double sickness rate

And another large Ayrshire firm reported absentee levels double the average for this time of the year.

Hospitals in Tayside have been admitting around 70 flu-hit patients a day since Christmas - double the figure they would normally expect.

The outbreak has not yet reached an epidemic in statistical terms. In Scotland the figure needs to exceed 1,000 cases per 100,000 head of population.

That differs from England, where the figure for an epidemic is 400 cases per 100,000 people.

However, in south west Scotland alone, epidemic proportions could emerge with the next week.

  • The Highlands is suffering 938 cases of flu per 100,000 people

  • Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has just had its busiest seven-day period for medical admissions

  • At St John's in Livingston, there have been 800 medical admissions in the last two weeks - a 34% increase over normal levels

  • Aberdeen's Foresterhill Hospital reports twice as many people are being sent to the hospital as usual by GPs

  • In the Forth Valley area the number of reported flu cases now stands at 672 per 100,000 of population, compared with just 222 last week.

The message from the different health authorities and hospitals is that they are coping at the moment, but that if the current rate of admissions continues the situation will become increasingly difficult.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary sign Record admissions at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Anne Cargill, assistant nurse director at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said: "Normally we see an increase in medical admissions at this time of year but this year we've had a much greater increase than normal.

"We would expect 30 or 40 per day but on Tuesday we had 61 which I think is the greatest number ever in one day."

The hospital was coping with the increase in admissions, but now a number of non-urgent surgical and medical admissions have been cancelled to ease pressure on beds, she added.

Agency staff

Ken Oates, a public health consultant with Highland Health Board, told the BBC both GPs' practices and hospital staff were "stretched", but still coping.

The last time there was a flu epidemic in the Highland area was in the winter of 1989-90, although similar levels to this winter were experienced in 1994 and 1997.

Capsules Sufferers have been diagnosed antibiotics
An Edinburgh Royal Infirmary spokeswoman said 1,030 patients were sent to the hospital by GPs in the seven days up to Tuesday - significantly more than the previous admission record of 700 for a seven-day period.

At St John's in Livingstone, a spokesman said a number of staff had themselves gone down with the bug, meaning agency staff had been called in.

But he stressed all wards were still operating normally.

The Scottish Centre for Infections and Environmental Health says its flu figures up to the end of last week are 540 consultations with GPs per 100,000.

These figures are at "the upper end of normal", but a spokesman said the figure is expected to rise.

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See also:
06 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Scottish hospitals under pressure
04 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Flu bugs hit Scotland
02 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Sailors 'ship in' flu bug
05 Jan 00 |  Health
Flu hits NHS hard
08 Apr 99 |  Medical notes
Flu: The facts

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