National Pandemic Flu Service to stand down
Wednesday 10th February, 2010
From Thursday, 11 February, the National Pandemic Flu Service is going to be closed down as the number of swine flu cases continues to drop nationally.
It will mean that if you are suffering from swine flu symptoms, you will need to stay at home and call your local GP who will be able to help, and if necessary offer you antiviral medication. This is rather than using the National Pandemic Flu Service telephone and web service.
Both the National Pandemic Flu Service phone line and website will be shut off from 1am on Thursday morning.
Since the end of last year there has continued to be a steady drop in the number of swine flu cases across the country, including across Sussex, and so the decision has been made nationally to ensure that the services on offer match the demand and needs of the public.
The National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) was set up on the 23rd July 2009, to relieve the pressure on GPs after the outbreak of swine flu, so they could focus their efforts on helping those in at risk groups and patients with other illnesses.
GPs now say that they can manage to look after people who become unwell with swine flu, and the decision to stand down the service has been supported by key professional bodies - the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the British Medical Association (BMA), and appropriate pharmacy organisations.
Peter Hayward, Flu Director for NHS West Sussex, said: “The National Pandemic Flu Service has been very useful in easing the pressure on primary care services during the busiest times of the swine flu pandemic, allowing GPs to focus on those patients most in need.
“However now, as the number of people with swine flu continues to drop, a service the size of the National Pandemic Flu Service is no longer needed, and GPs can start to look after those patients with swine flu on a local basis once again. We are confident this will not affect the advice or service that anyone with swine flu will receive, but instead that they can continue to access expert medical help when they need it most.”
The majority of people who have become unwell with swine flu have experienced only mild symptoms and have fully recovered within around seven days. However, nationally experts will continue to monitor the spread of the swine flu virus, and, should it become necessary, the NPFS can be re-activated in seven days.
Peter added: “Our priority remains to vaccinate those most at risk from swine flu, so that those who could become very ill from the virus are protected against it. This is the first time that we have a vaccine that can protect people against a pandemic virus while the virus is still in the community, and so it has undoubtedly helped us to save lives. Our focus is now to make sure everyone who is eligible for the vaccine has the opportunity to have it.
“At the moment more than one in three people at risk from swine flu have received their vaccination across Sussex, and vaccine continues to be available in GP practices countywide to make sure that opportunities are still available for anyone who is eligible but has not yet had the vaccine. We would clearly want everyone at risk to have the swine flu vaccine to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.”
If you do have any concerns 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