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Swine flu bill less than feared

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The bill picked up by the Welsh Assembly for dealing with swine flu was £30m smaller than some estimates, it has been revealed.

£35m was spent in response to the pandemic in the 2009-10 financial year throughout the principality.

The single largest outlay was £15m on vaccines, followed by the cost of NHS planning, which came in at £13m.

In a letter to the cross-party finance committee, health minister Edwina Hart said the bill was “significantly less than we originally feared would be the case”.

She said the Welsh Assembly originally made provisions to spend £47.5m of its health budget on a possible flu pandemic.

After the swine flu outbreak, cost estimates rose as high as £80m, she added.

Shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies said: “It is fundamental that we ensure any responses to future outbreaks offer security and protection for communities but also value for money for precious NHS resources.

“We must not forget that considerable sums were spent on tackling the swine flu virus and the minister must reassure us that other health priorities will not suffer in the event of a similar emergency in the future.”

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