‘Take precautions to avoid falling victim to swine flu’

Stonebridge House, which was the base for Grantham officers for many years.
Stonebridge House, which was the base for Grantham officers for many years.
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TWO people from Grantham are believed to have died after contracting swine flu.

The news comes as doctors confirm the potentially deadly virus and seasonal flu are causing concern at Grantham Hospital and surgeries as staff struggle with a surge in patients.

Some of the nine houses on the old police station site.

Some of the nine houses on the old police station site.

Advice from NHS Lincolnshire is to avoid visiting A&E or surgeries unless you consider yourself to be seriously ill, as the pressures on health services increase.

A spokesman said: “Lincolnshire is mirroring the regional and national picture in terms of health services experiencing a surge in workload as a result of the current level of flu in the community, alongside other respiratory illnesses.

“All the health and social care organisations in Lincolnshire are working closely together, co-ordinating their activities and providing support where it is needed.”

NHS Lincolnshire told the Journal it cannot confirm how many deaths there have been in the area as a result of swine flu, nor how many patients have contracted the virus.

The spokesman explained: “We will not be providing a running commentary on the numbers of flu cases. This number changes frequently and there are often other complications and flu may be a contributory factor, so exact numbers just for flu may not be accurate.”

However, the Health Protection Agency was yesterday able to confirm that 112 people in the UK have died from the flu since October.

A stark warning to get the seasonal flu jab has been issued to people classed as being at high risk of developing complications, as it also protects against swine flu.

NHS Lincolnshire is advising over 65s, pregnant women and those with long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes to get the jab, with GPs urged to see high-risk patients within 48 hours.

However, the extremely high demand for vaccines may mean patients have to wait longer.

The spokesman said: “Flu symptoms hit suddenly and severely. People should not underestimate the effects of seasonal flu which can develop serious complications for at-risk groups.

“People in the identified groups are strongly encouraged to get the vaccination as soon as possible from their local GP surgery; it really is the only form of protection from the flu virus.”

Vaccines to protect against swine flu were available at Boots for members of the public to buy, but stocks dried up this week and the store does not anticipate further deliveries.

As the strain on health resources grows, people who fall ill are asked to diagnose themselves via NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or www.nhs.uk and treat themselves where possible by buying over-the-counter medicine.

l To check your symptoms, visit www.nhs.uk