Background: Each winter seasonal respiratory virus infections account for large variations in unplanned admission to UK paediatric intensive care units. The emergence of pandemic influenza A(H1N1) has been associated with a notable predominance in children and may be expected to have a significant impact on paediatric intensive care (PICU) provision.
Aims: To derive conservative projections for PICU demand from current data and examine the effect of regional variations in bed provision.
Methods and Results: PICU demand was estimated using the FLUSURGE 2.0 model using age-stratified data for the UK population and recently published conservative estimates for epidemiological parameters. The data suggests that a significant proportion of current total capacity may be required at the peak of the pandemic. Variation in per-capita critical care provision across the UK leads to a wide range in potential impact at a regional level.
Conclusions: Contingency measures for children needing paediatric intensive care are needed to absorb the likely increase in activity expected due to pandemic influenza this winter. Due to variations in provision by region, the role of paediatric retrieval services will be especially important.