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NHS braced as most deadly flu in decades heads towards Britain

Under pressure: NHS England chief Simon Stevens has promised up to 3,000 extra beds PICTURE: BRUCE ADAMS

BRITAIN is facing one of its worst winter flu outbreaks in history, the head of the NHS has warned.

An epidemic spreading across Australia and New Zealand could be on its way to Britain this winter amid fears the flu jab could prove ineffective, according to NHS England chief Simon Stevens.

Speaking at the NHS Expo conference in Manchester yesterday, he warned: ‘We know we’re going to have more hospital beds open, we know we are better prepared, but we also know that the pressures are going to be real.

‘The signs from the southern hemisphere have been that flu has been much higher. If that reproduces itself here over this coming winter that is going to mean much more pressure on GP services and hospitals.’

He said up to 3,000 extra beds would be made available after noting the scale of problems in Australasia.

Australian health chiefs labelled this season’s flu outbreak the worst in history, with two-and-a-half times the number of cases compared to last year.

The H3 strain is feared to be more resistant to vaccines than other forms. But Public Health England warned people should still aim to protect their health by getting a flu jab.

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