Swine flu 'intensive care crisis'
The swine flu pandemic could overwhelm intensive care beds in England, especially in children's units, leading doctors have warned.
Demand for intensive care beds could outstrip supply by 130% in some regions, while the need for ventilators to help people breathe could exceed supply by 20%.
Paediatric facilities are likely to become "quickly exhausted", while hospitals could face "massive excess demand", according to the researchers.
Hospitals on the South East coast, in the South West, East of England and East Midlands are likely to be worst hit, they said.
The warning comes as a pregnant woman critically ill with swine flu was being treated in a Swedish hospital after being transferred from Scotland. The 26-year-old suffered a rare complication and was flown to Stockholm because no beds were available in the UK for the procedure she needed.
Experts in intensive care and anaesthesia from the University of Cambridge, the Intensive Care Society and St George's Healthcare NHS Trust in London warned that English hospitals might be unable to cope with the amount of people affected by the pandemic.
London would fare the best and should have enough intensive care beds and ventilators.
But demand for beds could be 130% above supply in the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority (SHA) area, and 120% above supply in the South West.
In the East Midlands and East of England, demand could also be 120% above supply.
Across the whole of England, demand for beds could be 60% above the number available, all based on a hospital admission rate of 0.25%.