LMCs criticise HPA for poor swine flu leadership

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been criticised for failing to provide GPs with adequate advice and guidance to deal with the swine flu outbreak.

Face mask (Photograph: iStockPhoto/Juanmonino)
Face mask (Photograph: iStockPhoto/Juanmonino)

Dr Jane Orr, from Surrey LMC, told delegates of the difficulties she encountered when she tried to order some Tamiflu for a patient who had returned from Mexico.

‘I rang the local unit which told me to write a prescription and take it to the pharmacy. But none of the pharmacies had any supplies and I eventually found some at the local hospital.'

Dr Paul Roblin, from Berkshire LMC, said: ‘The HPA has had difficulty finding people to do the swabbing so the burden has fallen on GPs.'

The HPA website changes so frequently that information often disappears, he added.

Delegates voted against the motion praising the performance of the HPA.

Following the vote, Dr Fay Wilson, chairman of the conference, took to the stage to praise GPs for all their hard work during the swine flu outbreak before shocking the audience by informing them that the contract for her out-of-hours service had been terminated by the PCT .

‘I just received an email saying that the PCT believes that our costs are excessive. We charge £56 for a home visit. Good luck to the PCT, who will have to run the service themselves.'

Dr Peter Holden, GPC lead negotiator for pandemic flu, said: ‘The PCT executive is sat at home while the out-of-hours service worked tirelessly with the HPA to swab patients.

‘This shows the true mindset of these petty little bureaucrats. They should be ashamed of themselves.

‘The PCT has no concept of costs. Special arrangements required to tackle swine flu cost money. Look at the money PCTs spend on Darzi centres. The extra cost of swabbing is something that the HPA recommended. The PCT should take this up with it, not the out-of-hours service.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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