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Health Service Half of children's intensive care units opperated at near capacity during Christmas period

HALF of children’s intensive care units were dangerously full in the run-up to Christmas Day, Labour Party analysis of new NHS England data revealed today.

The units were running at over 85 per cent capacity between December 18 and 24.

More than a third of the 38 units in England had all of their beds occupied in the same period.

The worst day of the week was December 19, when 55 per cent of children’s intensive care units were running at over 85 per cent capacity and 47 per cent of them were completely full.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “To run a children’s care unit above 85 per cent occupancy places patient safety at significant risk and is an entirely intolerable situation.

“With the new year fast approaching and demand likely to further increase, the government must urgently explain … how they will avoid another appalling slump in care this winter.”

Meanwhile, official NHS England figures also show that non-emergency calls to the 111 hotline reached this year’s peak in the seven days ending on Christmas Eve.

There were 396,262 calls made, compared with 325,042 the previous week.

Also, bed occupancy rates on Christmas Eve dropped to 84.2 per cent, compared with 95.3 per cent the previous week.

The number of hospital diverts, where patients are redirected to another hospital, fell from 30 to six in the week ending Christmas Eve.

And there were 812 beds closed due to norovirus or diarrhoea and vomiting as Christmas approached, down from 1,071 the previous week.

An NHS England spokesman said: “The NHS has been busy in the run-up to Christmas, with record levels of 111 calls.

“Despite this, ambulance handover delays, bed occupancy and norovirus levels all dropped thanks to the hard work of NHS staff.”

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