Health site swamped

Swine flu leaps to 100,000 suspects in a week

There have been an estimated 100,000 new cases of swine flu reported in England since last week and 840 patients are in hospital with the virus, 63 of them in intensive care, the Department of Health said.

This means the number of people consulting their GP because they think they have swine flu has almost doubled in one week, up from 55,000.



Of the 840 in hospital, 435 are are aged 16 to 64, 169 are under-fives, 149 are over 65, and 87 are aged five to 15.

Tower Hamlets in east London continues to be the primary care trust with the highest number of GP consultations for people with flu-like illness. It is seeing 792 consultations per 100,000 people, followed by Islington in north London with 488 consultations per 100,000.

Other badly affected parts of England include Greenwich, south-east London, Leicester, and Telford and Wrekin.



The Government's chief medical officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, said a number of deaths had been fully investigated. Of these, 67 per cent had severe conditions such as leukaemia, 11 per cent had moderate conditions such as insulin dependant diabetes, and 6 per cent had mild conditions such as high blood pressure controlled by tablets. A total of 16 per cent of patients had no medical conditions and were not taking any medication.

Sir Liam said: "The bad thing would be if 100 per cent of the deaths were healthy people. The vast majority of people, even with an underlying condition, will get the flu and recover well."



He added: "The highest hospitalisation rate is for the under fives. Under fives remain the most likely to be hospitalised and the proportion being hospitalised has gone up a bit in the last week."



The new data comes as a telephone service for victims of swine flu is launched in England - capable of answering more than one million calls a week ( 0800 1 513 100 or, for Textphone, 0800 1 513 200 ).

The Government's National Flu Pandemic Service for England is being staffed by more than 1,500 call centre staff, with the option of recruiting 500 more. The initial 1,500 will be capable of more than 200,000 calls a day - or more than one million calls a week.



The phone line is accompanied by an internet service ( www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu ) where people answer a questionnaire to receive a diagnosis of swine flu. But the service was overloaded within minutes of going live under the weight of queries.

A DoH spokesman said the site was receiving 9.3 million hits per hour but insisted the site had not crashed. Also, BT was quadrupling the capacity to access the site.



People will supply their name, address and date of birth either online or to a call centre member of staff before receiving a code.

This code can then be given to a "flu friend" who will collect the antiviral Tamiflu from a collection point on the patient's behalf, using a form of identification from the patient.

More serious cases such as pregnant women, people with health conditions and very young children will still be referred to GPs.

The free phone number will be up and running for 15 hours a day initially but it could become a 24-hour service if required.

Details of the website address and helpline number will be released later today.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson will also announce the latest number of deaths linked to the virus, with the death toll currently standing at 31.

A jump is also expected in the number of people contacting their GP as well as a rise in the numbers being hospitalised for swine flu.

The new phone service goes live as a poll of health workers reveals that only around four out of 10 believed their organisation was managing to cope with the extra flow of patients.

In a survey of almost 1,500 NHS managers, nurses and doctors - carried out by the Health Service Journal and the Nursing Times - just 37 per cent of clinicians, including doctors, nurses and midwives, agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that their organisation was coping well.

Another 30 per cent neither agreed or disagreed while 13 per cent disagreed and 5 per cent strongly disagreed.

However, many doctors and nurses said the Government had provided useful advice to help them cope with the pandemic and most would not stay away from work if other staff became ill.

Staff were also asked to rate their confidence on a series of questions on a scale of one to 10, where one was not at all confident and 10 was extremely confident.

In answer to the question "How confident are you that the NHS as a whole is well prepared to deal with the greater demand on services expected later in the outbreak?", the average score was five.

Asked "How confident are you that there will be adequate supplies of swine flu vaccinations to protect the population?", the average score was 4.8.

And in response to "How confident are you that there will be a practicable logistical plan to vaccinate all those who need immunisation?", the average score was 4.6.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said the Government was making an "enormous effort" to tackle the pandemic.

Gordon Brown insisted "robust plans" were in place to fight it and measures were being taken in a "calm and organised and ordered way".

The UK pharmaceutical giant GSK also said yesterday that first batches of its vaccine would not be available until September, with further shipments in 2009 and 2010.

The Government has ordered up to 132 million doses of the vaccine from GSK and another drug company, Baxter.

Baxter is expected to ship its first batches at the end of this month or in early August.

More than 700 people worldwide are known to have died after getting swine flu which the World Health Organisation says is spreading faster than any previous flu pandemic.



Speaking at Paddington station in London today about the new flu helpline, Mr Brown said Britain was the first country to introduce such a service.

He added that it would reduce GPs' workloads and provide the advice that people needed.

Mr Brown added that people should heed the advice they were given so they could be treated as quickly as possible.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Sport
Heskey's aim has improved since the end of his English football career

Long after his career in English football has ended, Emile Heskey's impotency in front of goal remains an object of ridicule.

News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam