A National Pandemic Flu Service will be launched later this week in England, the government has confirmed.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham (pictured) said the service will offer help over the telephone and online to take pressure away from GPs and frontline health workers.
It will begin operation by the end of the week, “subject to testing”, and will mean that people who are worried about swine flu no longer need to ring their GP, he said.
“They can either answer questions online, via the new website, or ring the call centre service, where trained staff will be able to assess them over the phone,” he told MPs.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Burnham said that the service will be accompanied by a “major public information campaign”.
He said vaccines would be available from August with enough for 30 million people by the end of the year.
Responding to claims that conflicting advice had been given to pregnant women, Mr Burnham denied that the advice had changed since the start of the outbreak.
He said the latest figures for swine flu showed 55,000 new cases reported across the country in the last week, with 652 people in hospital, including 53 who are in critical care.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
What’s your view of the government’s handling of the swine flu outbreak? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
“Too slow and too confused. Strong messages that are clear, lines and websites that work and messages to deter the worried well from clogging the GP and A&E lines would have been so much better” – Name and address withheld