Helpline NHS Direct is "at breaking point" as the number of people contracting winter flu rises, according to one report.
The Daily Mail said that in some cases, patients are being forced to wait two days for help as the helpline struggles to cope with sharp rises in the number of calls.
According to the newspaper, doctors in areas of the country including the East Midlands and Leicester are reporting the worst outbreak of flu for a decade – and rising levels of swine flu are adding to the problem.
"So far this winter there have been 17 confirmed flu deaths and 14 of the victims had swine flu," the newspaper said.
Those who think they may have the flu are advised to stay at home and rest, take in plenty of fluids and avoid visiting their GP unless it is totally necessary, as this could lead to further infection of other people.
© Adfero Ltd
Private treatment news: 29 December 2010