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New 'flu communication strategy shows need for clear leadership

The Department of Health has published a communications strategy for potential 'flu pandemic outbreaks. Responding to the strategy, Professor Lindsey Davies, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said:

"FPH welcomes this strategy, particularly the emphasis on the evidence for behavioural change. We would expect to have evidence of whether oseltamivir is effective at preventing complications of flu before the next pandemic.. There are also non-clinical lessons to be learnt from the swine 'flu out break: when schools were closed for holidays, infection rates fell significantly.

"However, there is a lot of concern in the public health community at the moment about how outbreaks and vaccinations will be managed from April onwards. Our main concern is that it is becoming increasingly unclear who will be in charge of coordinating local outbreaks: we are strongly of the view that the Director of Public Health is best positioned to take on this vital leadership role.

"We would urge GPs, particularly those involved in the running of CCGs, to work with their public health colleagues now and in the new system so that public health expertise is used effectively to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like 'flu."

Written: 20/12/2012 , last modified: 14/03/2013