Government slated over swine flu hotline delay

A House of Lords report has criticised the government for delaying the launch of the National Flu Hotline and for failing to test out health services before a pandemic had emerged.

The report published today by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee examines how the government has prepared for a pandemic and has so far dealt with the swine flu outbreak.

While the document praises the government for stockpiling millions of doses of antivirals and for agreeing contracts for a pandemic vaccine, it criticises other aspects of planning.

The committee expresses 'significant concerns' about the delay in the launch of the flu hotline and calls on the government to explain the delay.

The committee are also disappointed that the process of whole system testing of health services was not carried out earlier.

Lord Sutherland, chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, said: ‘We are particularly concerned that the enhanced flu line is not fully operational and there seems to be a lack of clarity about how the ‘interim' flu line will interact with NHS Direct.

‘We are surprised and disappointed that the government had not undertaken ‘whole system' testing of health services preparations for a flu pandemic before swine flu emerged.'



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