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GPs get action card in terrorism battle

GPs are to be sent 'action cards' to help them identify patients who may have been exposed to chemical or biological weapons.

The move comes as part of a Health Protection Agency programme designed to raise awareness of the effects of biological or chemical agents which may be released by terrorists.

The cards, to be sent within the next month, will spell out GPs' role in responding to suspected terrorist attacks in the interests of public health.

The plan was revealed in a Home Office answer to a select committee report on the scientific response to terrorism.

It acknowledges GPs could be 'overwhelmed' by people concerned about the health risks from so-called 'dirty' bombs.

The response also said the possibility of mass smallpox vaccination would be reviewed. 'A safe vaccine might prove cost-effective, provide reassurance to millions and possibly act as a deterrent to any attack,' it added.

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