Health secretary Alan Johnson warned that previous pandemics had shown that initial mild outbreaks were often followed by something 'much more serious'.
His comments were echoed by England CMO Sir Liam Donaldson who said that it would be 'premature' to assume that the swine flu virus was a mild infection because of the low fatality rate.
At the time of writing, there have been only 27 confirmed cases of A(H1NI), and no deaths, in the UK. So far it appears that the virus is responding well to treatment with Tamiflu.
But if a more serious pan-demic were to hit this autumn, the QOF could be suspended to allow GPs to concentrate on dealing with patients with flu.
GPs will not lose out financially, however, as their NHS income will be protected in line with the previous year's earnings and any pre-agreed uplift.
Income protection would start as soon as a pandemic was declared nationally (UK alert levels 2 or 3) and would be reviewed every three months.
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