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GPs face deluge if flu pandemic hits

GPs could be deluged with tens of thousands of appointments according to dire Department of Health predictions of the impact of an outbreak of pandemic flu.

A document published by the DH's pandemic influenza preparedness team sets out guidance on how GPs and other healthcare professional can manage the potentially huge increase in patients during a flu pandemic.

The document warns that an outbreak of ‘pandemic influenza will be a widespread, rising-tide phenomenon rapidly threatening to overwhelm health services in the UK.'

The model predicts that as many as half of the population may show clinical symptoms of influenza' over the course of a pandemic.

This could result in the total appointments and admissions for influenza-like illness rocketing from around one million in a ‘normal' season up to 30 millions.

Of those developing symptoms, 4% may require hospital admission and up to 28.5% will require assessment and treatment by a healthcare professional – with GPs set to be thrust into the frontline.

Statistical modelling shows that an extra 14,250 GP consultations would be needed for per 100,000 of the population, assuming 50% of the population are infected, at a rate of 3,135 per week.

‘This is the reasonable worse case scenario that local health planners should plan for', the report states.

Flu vaccination

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