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Flu pandemic strategy makes UK best prepared

New strategy promises more flexibility during pandemic

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The government has today published a new UK-wide Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 which it claims places the country as amongst the best prepared in the world for a pandemic.

The updated plan has been developed following consultation with a range of health and social care professionals and is designed to allow for more flexibility and clearer communication between all parties involved in the government response to a pandemic.

Launching the strategy, health secretary Andrew Lansley, said: “This strategy sets out a clear framework to help planners in the NHS and other services to make sure we respond effectively to a flu pandemic.

“Good communications, strong preparations and close working with our health and social care professionals are key to ensuring the impact on services and to the public is kept to a minimum should a pandemic occur.”

For the first time, the plan sets out the main phases of a pandemic and the likely scenarios in low, moderate and high impact situations.

In each scenario there are four sections dealing with:

  • nature and scale of the illness – what defines the need for the pandemic to have reached this level i.e. widespread disease
  • key healthcare delivery – specific actions and guidance for healthcare providers
  • impact on the wider society – considerations on how this may be affecting the local community
  • public messages – reassurance and specific information for the general public.

The plan builds on 2007 guidance and incorporates lessons learnt from the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic, and latest scientific evidence.

Dr Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security and environment at the World Health Organization said: “The UK remains amongst the leaders worldwide in preparing for a pandemic.

“The new UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy builds positively on the lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic in setting the UK’s strategic approach to pandemic preparedness and response.”

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