DoH to set up flu hotline in pandemic

A UK flu hotline will be set up to help protect the public in the event of a flu pandemic, according to new contingency plans drawn up by the DoH.

Other countermeasures in the flu pandemic framework include plans to double the stock of the antiviral drug Tamiflu to cover at least half of the UK population. While 14.7 million courses of antibiotics will also be purchased to cover at-risk groups and to treat the complications of flu such as pneumonia.

In the event of a pandemic, the public will be advised to telephone a flu hotline as face-to-face clinical assessment for every patient would not be feasible.

If diagnosed with flu, patients would then be given access to antiviral drugs. Each patient would receive a unique code to show that they had been prescribed the drugs. Only patients who are experiencing complications should consult their GP.

The plan acknowledges that GPs will be focussed on dealing with the most seriously ill patients and recommends that community pharmacists be given wider powers to supply prescription only medicines to ensure patients can continue to access their routine medications.

Speaking at the launch of the pandemic plan in London yesterday, health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘We are strengthening our countermeasures to ensure we have the necessary vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals to protect the population if the worst were to happen.’

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com


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