Cambridgeshire escapes the worst of the flu


While the rest of Britain came down with the flu, Cambridgeshire seemed to be escaping the worst of the outbreak.

Cambridgeshire Health Authority said its own research did not reveal a huge problem in the county.

But it admitted the statistics may be misleading, as most people are treating themselves at home rather than going to the doctor's surgery.

The authority's director of public health Dr Tony Jewell said: 'According to the latest figures we are still well below epidemic proportions, although everyone knows someone who has flu and there are a lot of cases.

'There is some suggestion that the figures do not reflect the full picture, as the figures rely on the number of cases seen in GP surgeries and many people are, quite sensibly, treating themselves at home.

'Indications from primary care and out of hours services show they are coping well.

'We ran an extensive vaccination programme in September and hopefully that has prevented a lot of vulnerable people getting flu.'

Chemist Graham Young from Peterborough, Cambs, said: 'We are much busier than usual with people suffering with chest and throat infections.

'But the problem has not reached the same magnitude as last year when droves of people were coming in.' Despite escaping the worst of the flu epidemic Cambridgeshire's hospitals were continuing to feel the strain.

Keith Day administration director at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, said: 'The hospital remains under severe pressure but we are continuing to cope with the assistance of colleagues here, in other hospitals and the community.'

A spokeswoman said numbers of patients being treated in intensive care was constantly changing.

But she said the 18 intensive care beds were generally full.

At Peterborough District Hospital all six intensive care beds were full yesterday. But spokeswoman Julie Collison said admissions had eased over the weekend.

She said: 'We have had some staff sickness but we have had the flexibility to cope with it.

'I don't know if we've had any deaths from the flu but the number of deaths generally has been minimal compared to last year.'

Meanwhile at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambs spokeswoman Margaret Markey was off sick after coming down with the flu.

But duty manager Shirley Edwards said: 'It's been busy for a week with chest infections although I couldn't say whether it's definitely related to flu or not.

'We have had some staff off sick but we're coping at the moment.'