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Swine flu: a 'wake up call' to GPs

By Ian Quinn

GPs have been warned that the impact so far of the swine flu outbreak is a wake up call and they must get their emergency plans in place before a pandemic hits.

As two more confirmed cases of swine flu were identified in England, bringing the total number of cases confirmed in the UK to 34, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman urged both GPs and trusts who had not yet acted to get their plans in place.

‘Some GPs are ready, some are less ready,' he said. ‘Many PCTs did nothing after being given Government instruction to get on with local planning so there are lots of PCTs that aren't ready either.

‘We'd obviously encourage practices and PCTs to be ready for swine flu. We gave a warning that this was necessary months ago, and a lot of practices got on with it, and some didn't.

‘A lot more have got on with it now that they've suddenly realised how critical it is, and I think there's a lot more going on right now, but I think it is important that every practice is ready for flu, whether it's now or in a few months time.'

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) said practices which had did not yet have full contingency plans for pandemic flu needed to do so urgently.

‘Even if the current swine flu outbreak fails to develop into a major pandemic, it should serve as an urgent reminder that practices must have specific contingency plans for such an event,' said Dr George Fernie, head of the medical division of the UK-wide MDDUS.

He added: ‘It's not too late to agree crisis plans – especially if swine flu may hit again harder in the autumn. This crisis is a wake-up call.

‘Planning for a pandemic now could allow GPs to limit how many people suffer from flu and the number of deaths that result

The warnings came as new cases of the disease were confirmed in an adult in the Clacton-on-Sea area of Essex, who recently returned from the United States and a child of school age from London.

A total of 464 possible cases are now under laboratory investigation in the UK, with WHO saying there have been 1893 cases reported across 23 countries.

Dr Laurence Buckman: all GPs must act now to combat flu Dr Laurence Buckman: all GPs must act now to combat flu

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