Parents swamping NHS Direct with calls about swine flu

Health chiefs appeal for calm, telling parents there’s no need to panic

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NHS Direct has been inundated by worried parents asking for information about swine flu. Calls have risen further following the news that a seemingly healthy six-year-old girl had died from the disease.

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However, health bosses have called for calm and are trying to reassure worried parents. “People do need to keep it in perspective,” said Health Secretary Andy Burnham. “Lots of children have had swine flu and have made a quick recovery.”

A post-mortem is being carried out on Chloe Buckley to try to determine why she succumbed to the disease so quickly. Her parents have released a statement saying that they were satisfied with the health care Chloe received, countering earlier reports in the press that they were unhappy with her treatment.

Following the announcement of Chloe’s death on Tuesday, NHS Direct received 9,000 calls – the highest number so far. Some callers have complained of long waits to speak to an advisor – while many others have simply heard a recorded message.

The NHS Direct website is now warning of long delays in getting a call back from the service, stating, “We are exceptionally busy because of swine flu calls but we are still helping patients with urgent health enquiries. Please be aware that there will be a delay before we can call you back.”

The advice is now to use the NHS swine flu checker, but this is not suitable for children under the age of five. If you are concerned about your child’s health, phone your GP surgery.

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