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Paediatrics: Hospital Beds

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the likely effect of a swine influenza pandemic and normal winter trends in hospital admissions on the availability of paediatric beds. (290009)

We continue to base our planning work with the national health service for the H1N1 pandemic on independent expert advice. The latest assumptions that we published on 3 September, assume that 1 per cent. of people who become ill with H1N1 will require hospitalisation. This would be above normal winter levels of flu activity and all NHS organisations have been planning to handle this if necessary, for both adult and paediatric services.

Measures that may be taken include the cancellation of out-patient services and elective admissions in order to free up staff and capacity to care for an increase in children admitted with H1N1.

In April this year, the Department also published guidance on “Managing Demand and Capacity in Health Care Organisations (Surge)”. The document gives guidance on measures the NHS can take to handle the pressures it will face, including in providing paediatric care during a pandemic. A copy of the guidance has already been placed in the Library.

To further support local planning, on 10 September, a strategy for critical care services was published that in part set out how the NHS would work to substantially increase availability of paediatric intensive care beds should this be required at the peak of the pandemic. A copy has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the likely change in numbers of paediatric beds available between 2010 and 2012; and what assessment he has made of the likely effects of that change on winter planning during that period. (290021)