Swine flu LES proposed for GPs in Northern Ireland

GPs in Northern Ireland could be offered a LES to help deal with the swine flu outbreak.

The proposed LES will be offered to GPs in practices close to ports, and will only cover patients arriving with features suggestive of A(H1N1) influenza, in line with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) algorithm.

The LES will require an assessment of patients and liaison with the public health consultant, and should be provided when the local out-of-hours service is not operational.

There would be a payment of £100 per call-out for up to two patients plus an additional £50 per extra patient in the same call-out.

Dr Brian Dunn, chairman of GPC Northern Ireland, said there were plans to offer the LES to practices close to Belfast's airports.

'It makes sense to offer the LES to help GPs treat patients who have returned from travel.

'It is one way of helping to control the spread of swine flu. As yet, there have been no cases in Northern Ireland. We want to try to keep it that way.'

Dr Peter Holden, the GPC's pandemic flu head, said that GP attendance at airports was not part of the GMS contract, so an LES could help GPs deal with patients who are returning home. Funding for the LES should come out of the public health budget, he added.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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