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Volume 495: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his most recent assessment is of the adequacy of the influenza pandemic response strategy in (a) Ribble Valley constituency, (b) Lancashire and (c) nationally. (282261)

National health service organisations in the North West have been preparing their pandemic response for the last five years. All 63 NHS organisations in the North West region have provided assurance to the NHS North West strategic health authority (SHA) that they have robust plans in place to respond to an influenza pandemic.

The NHS Operating Framework stated that all NHS organisations should have robust pandemic flu plans in place by December 2009. Self-assessment of plans have been completed against the requirements set out in the “National framework for responding to an influenza pandemic”. (A copy of this has already been placed in the Library).

Following the outbreak of swine flu in April, SHAs have revisited and reviewed primary care trust plans, in particular to ensure resilience of antiviral collection points (ACPs).

Lancashire has several ACPs which will be open to the general public plus others which are located in prisons and hospitals for prisoners and in-patients. Of the ACPs in Lancashire, several can be operational within 48 hours, and the remaining within 96 hours or a week.

The Ribble Valley is a more rural area and has its main ACP, for public access, located at Clitheroe hospital which is a community hospital. The population of the Ribble Valley can also access several other ACPs in the area.