“You’ve got a friend…all you’ve got to do is call!”
Thursday 6th August, 2009
A new service is being launched in Sussex to help vulnerable people should they become ill with flu.
As swine flu continues to be present in the community, everyone is being urged to identify a number of family members or friends who can become your Flu Friends, and help you if you become unwell.
Your Flu Friends could be relatives, neighbours and friends who will be able to collect medicines, food and other supplies for you if you get swine flu, so that you don’t have to leave your home. This will help to prevent the spread of flu out into the community. Your Flu Friends should be people who live relatively close to you and be people that you would be happy to share your personal health details with.
However, we appreciate not everyone will have someone they can ask to be their Flu Friend.
Today the Sussex Flu Friends Helpline launches on 0300 100 1822.
The helpline is available for anyone in Sussex who has become ill with flu-like symptoms, accessed the National Pandemic Flu Service or contacted their GP, and has been offered antiviral medication, but who is unable to find a Flu Friend who could collect the antivirals for them.
This service will provide easy to access, fast help for anyone who is vulnerable when they are unwell. However due to possible demand we would encourage people to try neighbours, church groups and other community organisations first so that we make sure help is available for those who need it most.
If anyone is without a Flu Friend, they should call the Sussex Flu Friends Helpline on 0300 100 1822. You will be asked a few simple questions including your name, address, telephone number and the unique access code you have been given from the National Pandemic Flu Service to access your antivirals. The operator will then arrange for a British Red Cross volunteer to collect the antivirals and deliver them to your home.
You will then need to show them a piece of your identification when they arrive to receive their antivirals.
This service can also be used by GPs, nurses and all primary care providers on behalf of their patients, when they come into contact with someone who will be unable to find someone who will pick up their medication for them.
Liz Costigan, Programme Manager for Flu Friends, West Sussex Primary Care Trust, said, “We all need help sometimes. If you cannot find someone to collect your antivirals please call the Sussex Flu Friends Helpline on 0300 100 1822. We’re here to help.
"We are delighted to be working with the British Red Cross to launch this. They have considerable expertise offering this kind of service.”
The helpline will be available during working hours (9am-5pm). Out of hours there is a recorded message giving directions on how to contact the British Red Cross directly.
What is swine flu? What symptoms should I be aware of?
As swine flu spreads, it is important to be able to recognise its symptoms. People who have two or more of the following symptoms and a temperature of 38°C and above or feel hot may have swine flu.
The typical symptoms are:
• sudden fever (a high body temperature of 38C/100.4F or above), and
• sudden cough.
Other symptoms may include:
• aching muscles
• limb or joint pain
• diarrhoea or stomach upset
• sore throat
• runny nose
• loss of appetite
What should I do if I have flu-like symptoms?
In the majority of cases this strain of flu is a mild illness. Most people will recover fully within around seven days.
If you do have flu-like symptoms you should stay at home and check your symptoms by calling the Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513, NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhs.uk.
If you are still concerned please contact the National Pandemic Flu Service, either by visitingwww.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu or by calling 0800 1 513 100.
Anyone with flu-like symptoms is still strongly advised not to visit hospitals or GP surgeries, but to use the National Pandemic Flu Service instead.
However, people should call their doctor direct rather than using the National Pandemic Flu Service if:
- they have a serious underlying illness;
- they are pregnant;
- they have a sick child under one year old;
- their condition suddenly gets much worse; or
- if their condition is still getting worse after 7 days (5 for a child).
When you contact the National Pandemic Flu Service, or your GP, you will be assessed and if necessary offered antivirals. You will be given a unique access code and told where your closest antiviral collection point is. You should then give the code and a piece of your ID to your Flu Friend who can go to the collection point and pick up your medication (they must also take a piece of their ID with them as well).
Please also make your Flu Friends aware that it will take around twenty minutes for them to go through the assessment procedure with a member of staff at a collection point, for the member of staff to check the unique access code and both pieces of ID. They should bear this in mind when arriving at the collection point, especially when considering parking arrangements if driving.
Where can I find out more information?
For more information about swine flu please call the Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513513. Further information is also available on the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk