Pneumonia and newborns to keep NHS busy this Christmas

While many of us are looking forward to a break over Christmas and New Year, NHS hospitals are preparing for some seasonal spikes in activity.

New figures from health analytics company Dr Foster show the NHS can expect a surge in winter illness admissions – as well as some of the fallout from festive revelry.

Looking at data covering all NHS admissions last season, the health service saw a pronounced increase in pneumonia cases between Christmas and New Year.

While pneumonia cases requiring hospital admission were steady in the run-up to December 25th, from Boxing Day hospitals saw a surge in admissions that peaked on December 29th, when 1,141 people were admitted – 36% more than on December 20th, and 79% more than on an average day last year.

Many of those kept in were frail elderly people – with the proportion of over-80s admitted reaching a peak on Christmas Day itself, with 21% of all people admitted in this age bracket, considerably higher than the 13.5% annual average.

Meanwhile, those having a particularly ‘merry’ Christmas pushed acute intoxications up to 67 (42% higher than average) on December 25th, with a peak in drink-related admissions on New Year’s Day, when 124 people ended up in a hospital bed, 2.6 times more than usual.

On a happier note, the number of births climbed rapidly in the post-Christmas period, reaching a high of 1,928 on December 30th and 1,918 on December 31st – 11% more than usual – giving new parents an extra reason to celebrate the New Year.

While seasonal rotas mean many hospitals will have reduced staffing over the Christmas period, figures show that 152,000 NHS staff worked on December 25th last year, as well as 168,000 care home staff.

David Rose, Chief Executive of Dr Foster, said:

“This Christmas, we really ought to take our paper hats off to the thousands of NHS staff who keep our hospitals going over the festive period.

“While many of us are tucking into turkey and Christmas pudding, our dedicated healthcare professionals will be there for anyone that falls ill or needs emergency care.

“As we spend time with our loved ones, let’s remember the tireless medical and support staff who’ll be missing hours with their friends and family to care for others.”



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