The Government has confirmed 29 people have died from swine flu-related illnesses amid bleak estimates of thousands more deaths.
Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England, said the NHS is using figures to plan its services which show a 30% infection rate among the population may lead to 65,000 swine flu deaths.
However, there are varying estimates about the number of people who end up infected with swine flu.
Sir Donaldson said by the end of next week, a National Pandemic Flu Service for England should be in operation.
People will be able to get a diagnosis via the telephone and internet-based service, which will also give patients access to Tamiflu through a unique reference number.
The number can then be used by a ‘flu friend’ to collect the antiviral for the patient from one of a number of special depots around the country.
Sir Liam said the aim of the new flu service was to enable the NHS to look after the ‘most seriously ill’ by easing pressure on hospitals and GP services.
Similar services have not yet been set up in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. However, they could be implemented if pressures on the countries’ health services continue to rise.
Twenty six people in England and three in Scotland have now died after contracting the virus.