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DH warns of 'unprecedented' workload as swine flu cases double

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs should brace themselves for ‘unprecedented' levels of workload, the Department of Health has warned.

New modelling data by the Department of Health's expert advisors, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, has put the NHS on alert by predicting that 1.5 million people may become ill with swine flu when the peak week of the second pandemic wave hits this winter.

The prediction is based on a worst case clinical attack rate of 12% - which has been revised down from the 30% SAGE had predicted in the summer. But it is still assumed that up to 30% of children under 16 may fall ill during the second wave, as they are ‘significantly more susceptible to the virus', the DH warned.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said the predictions were worrying.

‘The new SAGE assumptions planning assumptions bring the estimate generally down. But we are concerned that the NHS will be put under pressure in the winter months from swine flu and also other winter illnesses.'

‘What we are starting to worry about is the sustained pressure the NHS might face over the winter, which will be unprecedented in modern times.'

Meanwhile the number of swine flu cases has almost doubled in a week, Sir Liam said.

Figures released by the Health Protection Agency shows the estimated number of cases rose from 27,000 last week to 53,000 this week – a 96% increase.

GP consultations have also risen in the last week, from 29.1 per 100,000 of the population to 39.1.

The NHS is on alert as swine flu cases grow The NHS is on alert as swine flu cases grow

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