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Queensland Goverment to fund extra beds to cater for flu season

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THE Palaszczuk Government will fund up to 90 extra beds across southeast Queensland to keep up with increased demand during the winter flu season.

With the latest data showing 510 public hospital admissions in Queensland so far this year as a result of the flu, Health Minister Steven Miles said the $10 million investment was part of the 2018 Winter Bed Strategy to be detailed in next month’s State Budget.

Mr Miles said that last winter, southeast Queensland’s public hospital emergency departments saw more than 215,000 presentations across the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and the Metro North, Metro South, Gold Coast and West Moreton health services.

He said up to 90 additional beds would be provided across emergency, inpatient hospital care and in step-down facilities across southeast Queensland to help them cope with the surge in demand during winter.

“This funding will complement local winter bed management plans which aim to ensure bed capacity is optimised during the traditionally busy winter and flu seasons,” the minister said.

He said the extra beds were on top of the $2.3 million initiatives the State Government had already invested in to protect Queenslanders against the flu this year, including free flu vaccine for children aged six months to less than five years.

“It’s no secret that last year’s flu season was one of the worst on record and we’re doing everything we can to avoid that,” Mr Miles said.

Flu figures show 4193 Queenslanders have tested positive for the flu so far this year, 1.7 times the five-year average. Since the start of the year, 73 people with the flu have required admission to public intensive care units.

A national poll of 564 Australian parents released yesterday suggests twice as many parents plan to vaccinate their young children against the flu this year than in 2017.

The survey found almost half of the parents planned to get a flu jab for their children aged under five, compared to just one in five last year.

Two-thirds of the parents said having the government-funded free flu vaccine made them more likely to have their young children vaccinated against influenza.

During the 2017 season, more than 3000 children aged under 18 across the nation became ill enough with complications from flu to be admitted to hospital. At least five of them died.

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