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No joined up thinking on flu drugs at DoH

From Dr Guy Russell, Moseley, Birmingham

'Hello,' I said to the receptionist at the practice where my son is registered, 'can I speak to a doctor please? It's about my son, he's nine, he's never been off school before but he is now and I think he's got flu. Would the doctor consider prescribing an anti-viral agent?'

'Well,' the receptionist answered, 'I can see he hasn't ever had any medication before ­ can he come down?'

'Well I don't think he really needs to be seen. Can I just speak to the doctor?'

'I'll ask her to ring you back.'

I'd been told by my receptionists the day before that I had seen 52 patients that day. Some with flu I'm sure. Today I'd opened an e-mail from the director of the health protection unit in my city informing me that the Department of Health had 'agreed to release oseltamivir to local pharmacies where prescribed by GPs as indicated'.

I'll ask my son's GP I thought. The GP soon rang me back and agreed his symptoms were in keeping with a diagnosis of flu. A prescription was to be faxed to my local pharmacy.

The GP very kindly made sure my pharmacy could provide the drug. They could only get it tomorrow. The recommendation is that it is taken within 48 hours of onset.

That was fast approaching. I contacted another local pharmacist ­ 'manufacturer's delay', I was told.

GP 10 points; DoH planning 0 points. Come on DoH ­ where is the joined up thinking?

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