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GPs report swine flu chaos

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs have told of chaos on the ground as NHS chiefs struggle to implement pandemic flu plans.

The RCGP and the BMA launched guidance in December on pandemic flu preparations, requiring PCOs to have their measures in place before a March 31st deadline.

But a picture is emerging of widely different implementation of the plans in different areas, including those at the centre of the outbreak so far.

Dr Peter Moore, a GP in Torbay, Devon where swine flu was confirmed in a 12 year old girl yesterday, said he had heard ‘nothing at all' from his PCT' when contacted by Pulse yesterday, despite widespread public alarm which has seen local pharmacists sell out of face masks and the girl's school, Paignton Community College, being closed, while tests are carried out on her family and friends.

Dr Moore added that he had no swabs and no access to Tamiflu, even though his practice is just a few miles from the school.

Meanwhile, Dr David Barrett, a GP in Coventry, attacked his PCT for ordering GPs to visit suspected swine flu cases in patients' homes and then drive to the local hospital themselves to deliver the swabs for analysis.

‘We need the practical tools to do our job, which should include a city-wide visiting and swab service, delivery and collection of samples, so we can deal with in-house infection control procedures as patients pitch up potentially spreading it and telephone in worried.

‘We also cannot source any masks, so will be seeing suspected patients without any protection', Dr Barrett added.

A spokesperson for NHS Coventry said: ‘NHS Coventry is working closely with GPs and keeping them informed about any changes that are received nationally from the Department of Health and from the Strategic Health Authority.

‘All GPs in the city have been briefed about the situation and what the procedures are when taking a swab; as a result of this meeting it was agreed by leading GPs that the PCT should establish a central drop off point and courier service for collection of swabs; this has been arranged.

‘The PCT will be issuing a small stock of gloves, masks, aprons and biohazard labels on Friday 1st May direct to practices in the city.'

A GP in Central Wales told Pulse anonymously GPs in the area may have to wait for deliveries of Tamiflu.

‘We have access to face masks, swabs and Tamiflu - we can access them by phoning the Health Protection Team and requesting that they send us some.

‘However, that is not really adequate access, since from the time of asking it will take a minimum of 2 hours for such items to arrive at the surgery even if dispatched immediately by special courier. Is it anticipated we should have these patients wait in the waiting room and infect us all while we are waiting?'

‘We are not aware of any plans to provide antivirals to our staff in such circumstances, but we have been told there may be an immunisation available in October.'

Tamiflu: GPs cannot get access or are having to wait Tamiflu: GPs cannot get access or are having to wait Tell us how you're coping with the swine flu outbreak

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