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Blog: We need to plan for a flu pandemic

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Gloomy economic forecasts aside, our primary care expert Lynn Young has her mind on a far more immediate concern for the nation's well-being

This blog was typed on the first day of Autumn, along with tales of anticipated woe relating to the credit crunch, catastrophic housing market and rising levels of unemployment and inflation. On top of this, Louisiana in the US is expecting a ferocious hurricane, and the UK can boast the coolest and wettest August for many a year.

Hope and optimism are needed in great supplies - being miserable and pessimistic will be of no use to the national good during these tricky days. However, although we constantly need to find reasons for being cheerful, I thought it high time that my blog referred to the anticipated flu pandemic, which could possibly put all other current problems into more sensible perspective.

According to our expert scientists, flu is on the way, but we have no idea when or how bad it is likely to be. Lovers of history will know a little about the flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 that killed millions of young and previously fit and healthy folk.

The tragedy is that while much is still written and talked about the tragic carnage of the first world war, the truth is that the subsequent flu killed more people then the appalling battles which took place. We can only imagine how terrible it must have been for families at that time, who lost their young males and then suffered further bereavement as a result of the flu.

Apparently a letter is about to be discussed by the English cabinet, describing the possible rise in crime as a result of economic recession. While this may be an issue worthy of intelligent consideration, what about the possible civil unrest on account of a rapid and ravenous flu pandemic?

Not everyone will be able to be part of the vaccination program – the nation only has enough vaccine for certain groups of people, so unless a spirit of public good and citizenship emerges, mass rioting could break out on our streets.

On the other hand, though, we could take action to prevent the worst case scenario and develop a magnificent media campaign aimed at ensuring good sense, reason and civic responsibility prevail. Plans are already in place within NHS organisations (and some independent health settings) to recruit retired nurses and doctors to return to work should their community need them. While there will be arrangements for nurses to be rapidly re-registered with the NMC, we should also remember that there is nothing to stop such nurses from working as healthcare assistants.

The nation will need to be utterly and sensitively responsive to whatever the pandemic throws at us and nurses will be called upon to do their ‘bit’ to help their community through the troubled days.

And remember, planning for the inevitable is easy, planning for the unknown has its problems. But we need to be confident that the nursing population will rise to the challenge – whatever the challenge and make its special contribution to diminishing suffering and death.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • People should look beyond the traditional methods of reducing exposure.

    We are pioneering the use of UVC air purification. UVC won a Nobel prize over 100 years ago because it was found to be germicidal i.e. it will kill any virus, bacteria or mould regardless of virulence, even MRSA. Devices can be plugged in a wall, installed in ventilation systems or installed in air conditioning systems or even hung around your neck to "purify" the air you breath and when worn significantly increases the efficiency of face masks.

    If the NHS would implement UVC in the ventilation systems it would also break the mutation cycle.

    If this is of interest, go to http://www.e-co.uk.com (buildings protection) or http://www.ge-e.com (personal protection)


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