Page last updated at 19:24 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 20:24 UK

Father's campaign on flu hotline

Charlotte Hartey
Charlotte Hartey died from complications of tonsillitis

The father of a 16-year-old girl who died after being misdiagnosed with swine flu is urging the government to stop over-the-phone advice.

Charlotte Hartey, of Oswestry, Shropshire, died from tonsillitis complications in July. She had called the swine flu helpline days earlier.

Her father Karl said he had collected nearly 12,000 signatures calling for the national hotline to be reviewed.

Ministers have previously said the helpline was "working well".

The National Pandemic Flu Service, which was launched in July, allows people who think they have swine flu to complete a questionnaire online or over the telephone.

Among the symptoms listed are fever or temperature which is more than 38C (100.4F), coupled with two of the following: unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or cough, loss of appetite, aching muscles, diarrhoea or vomiting.

'Extremely dangerous'

However, the website does urge anyone who suffers from severe symptoms or whose condition gets rapidly worse to contact their GP or NHS Direct immediately.

Mr Hartey said there was a danger that illnesses like tonsillitis and meningitis could be confused with swine flu without the patient being properly assessed by a doctor.

He said: "Telephone diagnosis is extremely dangerous.

"You should not diagnose anyone medically without out carrying out the checks that doctors would."

Mr Hartey said he was hoping to hand the petition to the prime minister at next month's Labour Conference.

He added that he had written to every MP in Britain to highlight his concerns and said he wanted something done before more people became ill throughout the colder months.

Shropshire MP Daniel Kawcynski said he planned to raise the issue in the House of Commons when MPs return in October.

The number of new cases of swine flu in England dropped in the past week, with an estimated 3,000 new cases reported.

That compares to an estimated 4,500 the week before. So far, 75 people have died in the UK.



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SEE ALSO
Swine flu father tells of regret
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Swine flu girl 'was misdiagnosed'
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