Grieving brothers attack bosses over swine flu death

Share this article

The grieving family of a Lancashire man killed by swine flu has attacked the authorities for their handling of the crisis.

Godfrey Armstrong, 55, who lived in Penwortham near Preston, with his brother Julien, became ill with a flu-like illness a few weeks ago.

As he had no underlying health conditions, he did not go to his doctor or to hospital, but tried to recover from the illness at home. But the disease took hold and he died on August 2.

His brothers Rodney and Julien said a pathologist's report confirmed Godfrey died of swine flu.

He is believed to be the first person in Lancashire to have died of the disease – one of 59 to die nationally during the pandemic.

Julien, 45, who believes he also suffered a milder form of swine flu but recovered, found his brother dead.

He said: "Godfrey was late getting up that morning and when I called him, I was not getting a response.

"I went into the bedroom and found him lying there dead on the floor.

"The health advice is that if you are relatively fit and healthy and get swine flu, you should get better in a few days.

"But even though Godfrey was in good health, he died of it.

"You just don't expect something like that to suddenly happen to someone in your family."

>> Lancashire man dies from swine flu

After his brother's death, Julien became concerned about his own illness being swine flu and called his GP surgery for advice.

He said: "I was told to ring the National Flu Line and when I did, I just seemed to get an advice line telling me to make sure I disposed of tissues after blowing my nose and to make sure I washed my hands regularly."

Rodney said: "The health people are trying to sweep the whole issue under the carpet.

"I think they are trying to play it down so they don't frighten people, but they are being deceitful about it. Health bosses are discouraging people from going to doctors or hospital if they think they have swine flu and say it is mild unless you have an existing health condition.

"Godfrey did not have any underlying health conditions and he died. Swine flu is a nasty, aggressive, illness and Godfrey's death was rapid.

"The health professionals let Godfrey down as they are supposed to save people."

Conservative shadow health secretary Mike Penning told the Lancashire Evening Post: "It's vitally important for Mr Armstrong's family and the country as a whole that we can have confidence in the processes put in place to deal with swine flu."

South Ribble MP David Borrow said: "The family have not contacted me but if they were to I would demand answers from the PCT and would ensure as much information as possible was in the public domain. I need the permission of the family before I can start asking questions about a particular individual."

Dr Terry O'Connor, NHS Central Lancashire clinical executive chairman, said: "There is nothing new that we can add about whether or not this was a death due to swine flu until we have heard from the coroner, which we anticipate will be in the next few days.

"Whether or not the death was due to swine flu, we would like to offer our sympathy."

The funeral was at Kingsfold Methodist Church in Penwortham on August 12, followed by burial at Hill Road Cemetery.

>> Vote in our latest web poll

LEP Clocks: Countdown – and countup to future and past events