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GPs will be left to mop up after the swine flu media cyclone

I find it interesting that scaremongering is going on yet again, on this occasion over swine flu, without access to the full facts.

I have encountered patients with very similar symptoms to those of swine flu and in fact experienced them myself approximately six weeks ago.

I never dreamed of carrying out a viral throat swab! What I would like to know is how do the World Health Organization and Health Protection Agency know that this virus has not already been and gone in the UK over the past month? How many GPs routinely carry out viral swabs on throats and noses in this country?

Our surgery doesn't even stock viral swabs!

I am keen to know the cost so far of the call centres set up to take on the extra workload and the processing of excessive amounts of swabs, when this swine bug may already have hit our streets months ago.

Statistics show that influenza A kills people every year but this has not previously been deemed newsworthy and has certainly not warranted endless prescriptions for Tamiflu.

Who is footing the bill for this mass panic, I wonder? And who is to mop up the debris and do all the reassuring after the powerful media cyclone has whirled its way through our terrified patients… ah yes, the humble GP.

From Dr Catherine Hutchinson, locum, north-east England

Swine flu virus

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