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UK pandemic response review announced

The Department of Health has announced a "strategic and independent review" of the UK response to swine flu

The Department of Health (DH) has announced a "strategic and independent review" of the UK response to swine flu.

The review, conducted as part of a regular procedure following any major emergency event, will be chaired by Dame Deirdre Hine, a former chief medical officer for the Welsh Office. 

Hine will begin immediately and report to ministers with recommendations before the summer parliamentary process following an examination of the pandemic response across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This examination will involve a review of all the major elements of the response, and will include interviews with key individuals. It will be up to Hine however to decide the full details of how the review will progress.

In a statement, the DH said: "Having planned for the event of a pandemic for a number of years, the UK was widely recognised as one of the most prepared countries in the world. Although swine flu continues to be present in the UK, it's at the lowest level since the virus first appeared. It is now an appropriate time to begin this independent review, which will be crucial in examining how the UK responded."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least 16,813 people have died from the affects of swine flu, with 457 confirmed swine flu related deaths across the UK to date. The Government sees a review process as a "crucial step" to ensure the UK is prepared to deal with other potential pandemics in the future.

"Almost a year ago, the world began waking up to a new flu virus that rapidly became a pandemic," said Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health. "The UK was fortunate to have well established plans in place to deal with it.

"It is important that we look back at the lessons learnt through the review so that the UK remains one of the best prepared countries in the world, and so that we can improve our plans for any future event."

25th March 2010

From: Healthcare

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