Swine flu sickies suspected as calls to hotline soar on Mondays

Thousands of workers may be using the national swine flu line to land themselves ‘swine flu sickies’, according to a Daily Mail report.

Every Monday, the number using the hotline or associated website to get Tamiflu is more than double that of the day before, government figures have showed.

The service is available 24/7, so there is no reason why people should wait until after the weekend to use it.

Calls to swine flu centres increase significantly on Mondays, sparking concern that people are taking advantage of the system.

Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson admitted the weekly Monday spikes in calls to the National Pandemic Flu Service were “curious”. But he refused to comment on the suggestion that people were using the disease as an excuse to get time off work.

Last Sunday, about 3,500 contacted the flu service, but the figure rose to 8,500 on Monday. The week before the number rose from 6,500 to 16,000.

The number of Monday calls has been at least double the Sunday figure every week since the service was launched on 23 July. Every week, Monday is the hotline’s busiest day.

Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We have always said the system is open to abuse, and these figures appear to prove it.

“Mondays are a favoured day for those who want to swing the lead. All absence from work comes at a cost, but with small businesses struggling to survive the recession, this could claim many as victims.

“We urge call centre managers to be more searching in their questions on Monday before handing out Tamiflu.”

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