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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the likely effects of an influenza pandemic on demand for intensive care beds; and whether he has made an estimate of the number of such beds likely to be required for the purposes of treating influenza patients during such a pandemic.
The number of critical care beds required in a flu pandemic will depend upon a range of factors such as the clinical attack rate, the most 'at risk' population and the number of flu victims requiring intensive care. An estimate has, therefore, not been made.
In the "Managing Demand and Capacity in Health Care Organisations (Surge)" guidance, we have advised that, within their local flu contingency plans, acute hospitals will aim to double the number of critical care beds available (i.e. increase them by 100 per cent.), but that this will have an impact on the level of care that will be provided. Meeting the immediate demand could be achieved by reallocating staff from non-emergency areas of care in order to support the delivery of critical care to meet this increased demand, should it become necessary.
A copy of the current "Managing Demand and Capacity (Surge)" guidance has been placed in the Library.