Bays close at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as winter flu patients overload emergency department

People with flu-like symptoms are being asked to stay away from Addenbrooke's A&E department and see

People with flu-like symptoms are being asked to stay away from Addenbrooke's A&E department and seek other NHS help. - Credit: Archant

People suffering with flu are being urged to stay away from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge after eight bays were closed as a result of an influx of patients at the weekend.

The team at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust have seen a rise in the number of people attending A&E with flu-like symptoms – and say that, while some may need to be admitted, other help is available and going to hospital shouldn’t be the first course of action.

Deputy medical director Richard Miller said: “The emergency department is already at capacity with high volumes of people attending and now we are seeing an increase in patients being admitted with flu-related illnesses.

“More vulnerable people, such as children, older people or people with long term conditions, may need to be admitted, but they should check with their GP, local pharmacist or NHS 111.

“However, on the whole people with coughs, colds and flu-like illnesses will be better off staying at home, resting and drinking plenty of fluids.”

The closures come a year after the hospital closed its doors to the majority of new patients in January 2016, when a ‘major incident’ was declared. Patients were only admitted then if it was an emergency or life-threatening situation.

“If people attend the hospital when they are suffering from flu it increases the risk of those viruses being spread within the hospital and putting our patients at risk.

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“Please stay away from the hospital and respect our new visiting restrictions of a maximum of two adult visitors per patient. Children under 16 should not visit unless agreed directly with the relevant ward in advance,” Mr Miller added.

Herts-based Lister Hospital’s bosses have also warned of being overloaded with patients.

An East and North Herts NHS Trust spokesman said: “Over the last few days, attendances at the Lister’s A&E have risen as would be expected. What is different, however, is the number of very sick, frail elderly patients, often arriving by ambulance, who have needed to be admitted.

“This has meant that the Lister has been very busy over the last few days, resulting in those attending A&E with less serious illnesses and injuries – especially more minor conditions – waiting longer to be seen and treated as our staff prioritise those with life-threatening problems.”