Exclusive: Cost of swine flu forces PCTs to cut services

The cost of tackling swine flu forced one in six PCTs to cut other services, a GP newspaper investigation has found.

Responding to the pandemic cost PCTs £340,000 on average, with trusts having to cut services or use contingency funds to meet shortfalls.

Around one in six PCTs (16%, or five of 31 PCTs providing detail of plans to recoup costs) had to cut funding for other services to pay for the response. Others used contingency funds held back from their annual budget.

The cost of providing equipment, staff and communications varied enormously across PCTs. Of 56 PCTs providing details of cost estimates, 4% of PCTs spent £500,000 or less, while 9% spent more than £600,000. Overall, costs ranged from £11,100 to £1.7 million.

The true cost to PCTs is likely to be significantly higher than these estimates. PCTs admitted that they were not able to account for the costs of staff being redeployed and of staff time spent co-ordinating the response.

Responses were received overall from 107 PCTs to a Freedom of Information request although not all provided full responses.

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