Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 18:12 UK

Swine flu girl 'was misdiagnosed'

A girl died from complications arising from tonsillitis after being misdiagnosed with swine flu over the phone by a GP, her father has claimed.

Charlotte Hartey, 16, of Oswestry, Shropshire, died in Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on 31 July.

A post-mortem test found she died of natural causes though her father Karl said the coroner told the family she died from blood poisoning.

The NHS has said it is reviewing her case.

Charlotte's family said she was diagnosed over the phone by a local GP on 22 July and prescribed tamiflu.

But her condition worsened and she was admitted to hospital on 29 July. She died two days later.

Changes need to be made... to make sure people don't fall through the cracks, like Charlotte did
Karl Hartey

Mr Hartey said: "Charlotte was misdiagnosed. She was diagnosed with swine flu over the phone and treated for something she didn't have.

"She actually had tonsillitis and that led to her developing abscesses in her lungs and blood poisoning as the bacteria spread, which ultimately killed her.

"This was a death that shouldn't have happened. No-one should die from tonsillitis in 2009."

He criticised the NHS policy of diagnosing swine flu over the phone as a "dangerous game".

He said: "It's a systems problem - instigated by the Government. It has to take some responsibility.

"Clearly this call centre approach to diagnosing swine flu doesn't work and needs to be reappraised.

"Changes need to be made... to make sure people don't fall through the cracks, like Charlotte did.

"One life is too many."

'Deepest sympathies'

Charlotte's funeral will be held next Thursday.

Jo Chambers, chief executive of Shropshire County Primary Care Trust, said: "Our deepest sympathies are with the family at this difficult time.

"The PCT is currently reviewing the care given in this case, working with the hospital and GP practice.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on specific details of the case until that information is available and until all test results are known.

"We cannot rule out swine flu until those results are known."

Dr Jane Povey, the trust's medical director, said it was important that people diagnosed with suspected swine flu should contact their GP if their condition did not improve within five days for children and seven days for adults.

The Department of Health refused to comment on the case.



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