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Flu panic “could put NHS under unnecessary pressure”

27 July 2009

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Health Secretary Andy Burnham has warned that the NHS could be put under unnecessary pressure because of public panic over swine flu.

He says it is important that the public be given assurances that the government’s response has been well planned, with the vast majority of reported cases of the virus having been “mild”.

In an interview with The Observer he said: “It is very important for everybody to keep a sense of perspective. It has been a mild virus in the vast majority of cases, with relatively mild symptoms from which people recover fully fairly quickly.

“If people are made unnecessarily anxious, it makes the lives of NHS professionals, who are already under enormous pressure, far more difficult as people become unduly worried.

“People should be assured that we have been planning our response to a pandemic for a long time.”

Mr Burnham added that the new National Pandemic Flu Service website and phone line had ensured that swine flu victims were getting Tamiflu “quickly and conveniently”.

He said: “Despite an unprecedented demand for the National Pandemic Flu Service, the phone line and website are running well, illustrating once again how wonderfully resilient the NHS and its healthcare professionals are.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Pandemic Flu service