viernes, 31 de diciembre de 2010

Health Secretary Is Accused Of Flu U-Turn - Sky News

Andy Jack, Sky News Online

The Health Secretary has been accused of performing a U-turn and changing his mind over the launch of a flu awareness campaign.

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Shadow health secretary John Healey had accused Andrew Lansley of "a serious misjudgment" in axing the autumn advertising campaign urging people to have flu jabs.

But after Mr Lansley announced that the 'Catch it, Bin it, Kill it' campaign is to be re-launched on Saturday, he said: "It's better late than never but I welcome Andrew Lansley's U-turn."

However, the Department of Health pointed out that no flu vaccination campaign was being launched.

A spokeswoman said: "We are very clear about those who need to be called for vaccination and we have asked GP surgeries who have the lists of individuals to contact them.

Andrew Lansley

Andrew Lansley says the NHS is "well prepared" to treat sufferers

"There is no additional merit in a vaccination advertising campaign."

However, she stressed that it was important "we remind people about the need to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene".

Mr Lansley's announcement came as the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency revealed that 39 people have died of flu since October, 36 of them from swine flu.

The figure includes 12 deaths during the past week. All but one of the deaths were people aged under 65, and four of them were under five.

Anyone who has symptoms of flu-like illness should get medical advice as soon as possible and their GP will prescribe antivirals

Professor John Watson, Health Protection Agency

The Health Secretary has insisted that the NHS was "well prepared" to treat sufferers, saying: "Thanks to robust early planning, the NHS is coping well with the pressures of seasonal flu this year."

On Wednesday, the Royal College of General Practitioners announced that cases of flu rose by more than 40% in England and Wales last week.

It said the number reached 124 per 100,000 of the population in the week ending December 26 - up from 86 per 100,000 cases in the previous week, with the middle-aged particularly badly hit.

However, this is still well short of epidemic levels, which experts define as 200 cases per 100,000.

Professor John Watson of the HPA urged people in an at-risk group to have the flu jab, and added: "Anyone who has symptoms of flu-like illness should get medical advice as soon as possible and their GP will prescribe antivirals to reduce their symptoms and lessen the risk of them developing complications."

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