Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NHS could face 12% swine flu sickness absence

  • Comment

The health service has been told to prepare for more than one in ten of its workforce to be on sick leave with swine flu at any one time.

Speaking at a pandemic flu briefing last week, chief medical officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson said that up to 12% of the workforce could be absent at the same time.

Those still at work may have to cope with up to 30% of the general population being infected during the winter, according to the government’s ‘reasonable worst case’ predictions. This would see an estimated 360,000 patients needing hospital treatment, of whom 90,000 could need critical care.

National director for NHS flu resilience Ian Dalton said trusts should be ready to provide ‘surge capacity’ in critical care. He said: ‘Clearly there are huge discussions to be had which are under way with trade unions and frontline staff about how we keep services going.’

Sir Liam also said the national pandemic flu service, which would prescribe antivirals via phone and internet, would be launched in England this week to take pressure off services. He said in ‘hotspots’ GPs were being ‘completely overwhelmed’.

However, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be adopting the hotline at this point. Their own measures are currently proving adequate.

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish flu response hotline set up at the beginning of June was currently coping well with around 500 calls a day.

Welsh health minister Edwina Hart said: ‘We will continue to focus on providing care and support to people through existing services that they are more familiar with and comfortable with using for as long as possible.’


Are you concerned about swine flu?

View poll results
  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.