Swine flu cases fan epidemic fears

A TOTAL of 49 people have been admitted to Newham General Hospital with swine flu in the past month.

Of these, five were emergency department patients, 41 were positive inpatients and three were positive outpatients.

The first case was recorded at the hospital in Glen Road on December 14.

While there are no borough-wide figures, more than 900,000 people have been vaccinated across London.

A spokesman for primary care trust NHS Newham said: “Due to low numbers of patient deaths related to swine flu both nationally and regionally, and no official regional breakdown being provided, at this time the Trust does not wish to confirm whether it has had any patient deaths from swine flu, so as not to potentially cause any further distress or breach patient confidentiality.”

Meanwhile, the Trust is reassuring residents that flu vaccines are still available to high-risk groups.

The spokesman said: “We can say that there is no news that stocks are running out in Newham.

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“There are informal arrangements for GPs to share supplies with neighbouring practices if they were running out.

“Pregnant women will be offered a flu vaccine at their first ante-natal appointment, which they will attend at Newham General.

“Other women who are pregnant and who wish to receive the vaccine should arrange an appointment at their GP practice.”

The statement followed confusion over whether stocks of vaccines had run out in the borough.

One pregnant woman, Melanie Woodley, 34, of Addington Road, Canning Town, said that she had been told by her GP practice, Star Lane Medical Centre, and Newham’s midwife services, that no vaccines were available.

Ms Woodley was, subsequently, reassured by NHS Newham that she would receive a vaccination after her case was highlighted by the Recorder.

The Trust’s spokesman said: “If any women are experiencing problems obtaining the vaccine they should contact NHS Newham’s Patient Advice & Liaison Service on (020) 7059 6733.

“We are sorry that Ms Woodley has experienced a problem in accessing the vaccine.

“We understand these issues have now been resolved.”