Ruffley calls for flu pandemic plan for Suffolk

Monday, 24 October, 2005

David Ruffley MP has today written to Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Suffolk Health Protection Unit, asking what the County's plans and projections are for the possible mutation and outbreak of the H5N1 'bird flu' virus. Further to this David has written to Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority, the chief executives of Suffolk West PCT, Suffolk East PCT and West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust asking what their plans are for a possible flu pandemic in the County.

Dr Kate King, consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Health Protection Unit, predicted 180,000 people may fall ill in Cambridgeshire alone; generating 37,000 new GP Consultations and 1,500 flu-related admissions to hospital. Most alarmingly she said around 800 people could die.

As yet no projections have been forthcoming from the Suffolk Health Protection Unit.

The Government's pandemic flu contingency plan, published shortly before the 1997 election, was not updated until March of this year. The order was then placed for anti-virals. This stockpile will not be complete until September 2006. In comparison the French Government published their plan and procured 13 million course of the Tamiflu anti-viral on 13 October 2004.

David said:

'While I do not want to be alarmist the key factor here is for us to be prepared. The projected figures for Cambridgeshire are shocking, however, they can now make plans around these figures to deal with any pandemic that may occur.

'This is why I have today written to key figures within Suffolk's health service asking them to outline their plans to deal with a pandemic and asking them if they are prepared to make projections similar to those issued to emergency planners in Cambridgeshire.

'Suffolk must be prepared for a flu pandemic and if projections can be made nationally and indeed for Cambridgeshire I see no reason why they can't for our County. My constituents have a right to know that everything is being done to safeguard their health.'