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Lessons to learn after London’s 85 swine flu deaths, says Assembly

PUBLISHED: 08:10 16 June 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 05 October 2010

SWINE flu caused 85 deaths and affected 123,000 people in London, latest figures from City Hall reveal. But fewer than one-in-50 Londoners received a course of antiviral medication, a London Assembly report says

By Mike Brooke

SWINE flu caused 85 deaths and affected an estimated 123,000 people in London, latest figures from City Hall reveal.

Fewer than one-in-50 Londoners received a course of antiviral medication, a London Assembly report says this-morning.

The report by the Assembly's Health & Public Services committee captures for the first time the scale of the pandemic and looks at the effectiveness of the response.

Some people had to travel great distances to collect antiviral medicines.

Authorities were planning "too much around the worst case scenario" which left some NHS health trusts unclear how they should respond when the virus was not as virulent as initially predicted, the report stresses.

"We found room for improvement," said the Assembly's Health chairman James Cleverly. "Sadly, swine flu claimed 85 Londoners' lives over the past year and many thousands were made ill.

"There is no way of telling how potent the next major health threat will be.

"This makes it imperative that NHS London makes its response to pandemics in the future more effective."

The committee is pressing for improved responses to future outbreaks, including how locations of antiviral 'collection points' are being organised. There were 123,100 cases of swine flu in London, with just 156,000 courses of antivirals issued to cope, between July last year and February this year.


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