24/07/2009

GPs Busy As Swine Flu Numbers Rise

Family doctors and their after-hours services are coming under increasing pressure over swine flu.

The news comes as fresh figures this week indicated that there were three further confirmed cases of swine flu in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health here said that while there have been no deaths related to swine flu here, the new cases brings the total number of laboratory confirmed cases in Northern Ireland is 58.

An official statement said that GP consultations for flu and flu-like illness and calls to Out of Hours centres have both increased.

The statement noted that the GP consultation rate is higher than expected for this time of the year.

This modest rise is in sharp contrast to the rest of the UK, where 100,000 new cases were reported in just one week.

In some areas of London, for example, single GP practices have recorded more cases of swine flu among their patients that in the whole of Northern Ireland.
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Locally, Stormont Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he has worked with other UK health departments to develop the National Flu Pandemic Service which launched yesterday in England.

His department stressed the service is only available to patients in England initially "due to the increased pressures on primary care services there".

"The current numbers of flu consultations in Northern Ireland remain relatively low and the present arrangements remain the best way to get treatment to all who need it quickly," a statement said.

"Northern Ireland will be able to use the National Pandemic Flu Service if the need arises locally. This situation is being kept under constant review."

As it turns out, that may be just as well as the flu advice website for England 'crashed' on Thursday after it was overwhelmed with around 9.3million 'hits' an hour.

See: Swine Flu Woman Treated In Sweden

(BMcC/JM)

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