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GPs criticise government over flu

17 July 2009

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The government’s response to the flu pandemic has been attacked by GPs, who say it has provided conflicting advice to both doctors and patients.

Family doctors are providing feedback to the Royal College of GPs on issues which have arisen from the current outbreak – linked to 17 deaths in the UK so far.

Poor out-of-hours planning, confusion over prescribing the antiviral drug Tamiflu and a lack of knowledge over how long infected patients should stay at home are among the GPs’ complaints.

The attack comes after a week in which GPs received a 50% increase in people contacting them with fears they have swine flu.

Every week, doctors are receiving complaints of a “flu-like illness” from around 40,000 people in England and Wales, with a huge rise in the number of young children being affected.

There were 50.3 people per 100,000 reporting flu-like illness between June 29 and July 5, according to figures from the Royal College of GPs’ monitoring system.

However, between July 6 and 12, this rose 46% to 73.4 people per 100,000.

The college cited a ‘lack of information and conflicting advice’ from both the government and primary care trusts.

But in a submission to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, the college said it was “very pleased” with the responsiveness of health officials.

Copyright © Press Association 2009