The number of people in hospital with the flu has jumped by 40% in the past week, according to official figures.
An average of 482 patients a day were in hospital with the flu last week, compared to 344 the week before.
Adult norovirus cases also jumped by more than a quarter with 157 beds taken up each day last week, up from 126.
Norovirus is often called the “winter vomiting bug” because it makes patients very sick for a short period.
The news comes amid reports of a ‘perfect storm’ of pressures set to hit the NHS this winter, with overall general and acute adult bed occupancy rates remaining high for the time of year.
Some 95.4% are currently full compared to 93.8% at the beginning of December 2021.
The numbers are being compounded by an increase in the number of patients filling beds who are actually fit to be discharged.
More than 13,000 beds were filled nearly every day last week by patients who did not meet the criteria to reside in hospital.
On average 13,364 patients who could be discharged were still in hospital – up from 13,179 over the previous seven days and more than a quarter higher than the most comparable data from last year.
Industrial action is also blighting the health service as union bosses threaten to co-ordinate strike action across the NHS for “maximum impact”.
The new data comes on the same day the NHS announced that more than more than 40 healthcare ‘traffic control centres’ are now active.
The centres, which have been dubbed ‘war rooms’, were announced in October as part of a wider plan to cope with the pressures of winter.
The plan also includes the rollout of a national response team service, new hubs dedicated to serious respiratory infections and additional bed capacity.
The centres use data to respond to emerging challenges and can divert ambulances to another nearby hospital with more capacity as well as identify hospitals that need extra support.