Flu causes misery for hundreds

FLU and cold-related illnesses made the festive season a misery for many North Tynesiders, with the number of people requesting out-of-hours care from GPs line up by almost 40 per cent on Christmas Day alone.

The Northern Doctors Urgent Care service – based in North Tyneside but also covering Northumberland, South Tyneside and Newcastle – had to handle many more calls than expected at its Longbenton call centre over Christmas and New Year.

A rise in call volumes based on last year’s figures was predicted, but Christmas Day saw almost 40 per cent more calls than December 25 the year before, despite the prevalence of the H1N1 swine flu virus then.

The unexpected rise was due to a large number of people suffering from flu-like symptoms over the festive period while regular doctors’ surgeries were closed.

The Monday after Christmas was the busiest day of the festive season, with almost 1,450 people requesting urgent medical care.

Dr Alan Maguire, head of clinical services at Northern Doctors Urgent Care, is calling on those most vulnerable to flu to get themselves vaccinated.

He said: “Those in at-risk groups such as people with pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to influenza, young children and the elderly should be vaccinated.

“We are especially keen that pregnant women are vaccinated to prevent any possible complications as a result of being exposed to the virus.

“Those suffering flu-like symptoms who are young and healthy with no pre-existing conditions should embark on a programme of self-care, make sure they take paracetamol, drink plenty of fluids and rest indoors until they begin to feel better.