Woman gave birth before flu death

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

A baby under six months old is among the latest deaths from swine flu, NHS officials say.

London health chiefs confirmed the baby died at Royal Free Hospital on 8 July.

So far 29 people have died in the UK – 26 in England and three in Scotland with 55,000 new cases in the past week alone.

But with the NHS being deluged with calls and requests for consultations, GPs have criticised the government for not doing enough to reassure people.

British Medical Association GP leader Dr Laurence Buckman said people were "scared stiff" when they did not need to be.

Dr Buckman said swine flu for most was a nasty but relatively mild illness, however he said people were panicking and swamping doctors with calls.

The government has been forced to launch the National Pandemic Flu Service in England after a surge in requests for information and consultations in the NHS.


  • Tower Hamlets – 759 flu consultations per 100,000
  • City and Hackney – 392
  • Islington – 306
  • Newham – 293
  • Luton – 272
  • Epidemic levels are classed as 200

The web and phone service, which will be able to dispense anti-flu drugs will go live by the end of next week.

It will not cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as demand for services is not as high there, but they will be able to opt in if they need to.

Ministers said it should relieve the pressure on the NHS in England.

Every region of England has seen a dramatic rise in demand over the last seven days with all areas except Yorkshire and the Humber reporting "exceptional" levels of activity.

GPs have been particularly hard hit with the weekly flu consultation rates now above winter levels with some surgeries seeing demand at twice and even three times the epidemic level.

But Dr Buckman said people were worrying unnecessarily.

"The problem is that we have 60m people who are scared stiff. Certainly there is a risk, but for most people it is the fear rather than a reality.

"The mortality rate is pretty similar to seasonal flu, although it is hitting younger age groups. For most it will be a nasty, but relatively mild illness.

"But we are getting so much information that people are getting worried. GPs are being swamped with calls – many from the worried well.

"The risk is that people who are ill do not get through and that includes people who have not got the flu, but have diabetes, heart disease or asthma. That would be disastrous."

‘Headlines not helped’

Dr Buckman said he was not suggesting the government should not be open with the data, but that officials should be stressing the mild nature of the illness more.

But he also said the media had a responsibility to handle information responsibly. "Some of the newspaper headlines have not helped."

The mortality rate of between 0.1% to 0.35% is not that different from seasonal flu.

Professor Stephen Field, president of the Royal College of GPs, agreed.

"We don’t hear as much about seasonal flu and so this is worrying many people, but we should remain calm and heed the advice."

Seasonal flu kills between 6,000 and 8,000 in normal years, although during the 1999 to 2000 winter excess deaths topped 20,000.

Health officials said if the worst case scenario was realised 65,000 people could die in the coming months, although it could be much less.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The chief medical officer has consistently reiterated that it is a mild illness for many. He has said that every single time.

"We have tried to be open and honest and put it in context all the time we have given information."</p

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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