A NEW self-care service which will give people with pandemic swine flu symptoms fast access to information and antivirals was launched yesterday by Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
The National Pandemic Flu Service is a new dedicated website and phoneline (0800 151 3100) for people to get information, check their symptoms and get a unique number which will given them access to antivirals if necessary.
People who have swine flu symptoms will be given a unique access number and told where their nearest antiviral collection point is. They should then ask a ‘flu friend’ - a friend or relative who doesn't have swine flu - to go and pick up their antiviral.Š
On arriving at the antiviral collection point, the flu friend must show their own ID as well as that of the patient.ŠThe authorisation number and ID information will be checked to ensure it matches the information provided when the assessment of symptoms was completed.
Anyone who suspects they have swine flu must not go to their GP or Accident and Emergency.
People should contact their doctor direct rather than using the National Pandemic Flu Service if they have a serious underlying illness, are pregnant, have a sick child under 12-months-old or if their condition is still getting worse after seven days (five for a child).
Mike Pyrah, chief executive of Central and Eastern Cheshire PCT, said: “The launch of the National Pandemic Flu Service will help take the pressure off our GPs and help people get antivirals as quickly as possible if necessary.
“The new service will enable our GPs to focus their efforts on helping those people in high risk groups and patients with other illnesses.
“Within Central and Eastern Cheshire PCT, we have opened two Antiviral Collection Points and we are well prepared to open more if demand increases.
“I would like to stress the importance of nominating a flu friend to collect antivirals. A person with swine flu should stay indoors. Arrangements have been made for people who do not have a flu friend.”
Up to 2,000 call operators will be trained for a minimum of three hours. Less experienced call operators will be trained for a day. Strict industry standard regulations are in place when employing staff.ŠThese include the right to work in the UK (therefore no illegal immigrants), satisfactory employment references and satisfactory character references.
Doctors from the Royal College of General Practitioners will have a special liaison role with each of these call centres and will feed back problems or concerns that arise during the operation of the service.
As swine flu spreads, it is important to be able to recognise its symptoms. People who have any of the following symptoms and a temperature of 38°C and above or feels hot may have swine flu.
The typical symptoms are:
- Sudden fever (a high body temperature of 38C/100.4F or above) and a sudden cough
- Aching muscles,
- Limb or joint pain
- Diarrhoea or stomach upset
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite