DoH facing criticism over swine flu response

GP leaders have detailed a host of problems with the roll-out of swine flu vaccinations, as a DoH campaign urging patients to have the jabs gets underway.

Swine flu vaccination
Swine flu vaccination

The DoH is now telling patients to contact their GP to arrange vaccination, rather than wait for GPs to get in touch.

England's swine flu hotline is also being shut down this week as cases remain low.

But Dr Dean Marshall, BMA negotiator on pandemic flu planning and GPC Scotland chairman, told MPs last week that the way the campaign was run needed to be examined.

'That is an example of how not to deliver a public health campaign,' he said.

Six weeks were 'wasted' negotiating over how the jabs would be delivered, he told the All-Party Group on Primary Care and Public Health.

'It was down to people not accepting the amount of work it takes to coordinate and deliver that kind of programme,' he said. 'We missed the optimum time when people were concerned about it and we were all singing from the same hymn sheet.'

When the campaign expanded to include vaccinating healthy children, DoH information was 'less than clear and less than accurate', he said.

'Announcements were made that the vaccine was there and the programme was starting, and that was not the case,' he said.

RCGP pandemic lead Dr Maureen Baker said there had been a failure to inform the public about the risk of infection to pregnant women and children.

A DoH spokesman said: 'Throughout the pandemic we have worked closely with the RCGP and the wider NHS to ensure messages to civilians were clear and consistent.'

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