Hospitals in Wales are preparing for an increase in cases of swine flu by buying in ventilators, according to the Welsh Assembly.

£1.4m has been set aside to prepare the NHS to treat vulnerable patients who may experience severe symptoms or complications, as respiratory conditions can be worsened by flu.

Plans are in place to put 65 new ventilators in critical care units, double the number of beds for critical patients and hire more specialist staff.

Priority patients, who are more likely to be badly affected by swine flu, are currently being vaccinated against the virus, along with frontline health workers.

Other at-risk groups, such as pregnant women, will be contacted by doctors to receive vaccinations in the autumn, with fresh batches received each week.

Health minister Edwina Hart said: “It will help with our management of the pandemic and reduce pressure on the NHS, particularly from people with complications from flu.”

Chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said: “We are well prepared to deal with this virus, and have been working with suppliers to ensure that delivery of the ventilators will be as soon as possible.”