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Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2009, Official Report, column 650, on influenza pandemic, what the interim service is that could be launched within a week; (282767)

(2) what tests of the flu line service have been undertaken; when they were undertaken; what was tested in each case; and what the outcome of each such test was.

The interim National Pandemic Flu Service will consist of a phone service that the public can access through a single 0800 number, and a supporting website application. This will mean that people can have their symptoms assessed either over the phone or online. Those symptoms will be checked against an algorithm—a list of the key symptoms and factors that determine whether the patient in question has been exposed to the infection. If it is established that they have developed swine flu, they will if appropriate, be issued with an authorisation number that they will then need to access antivirals. Their go-between—their flu friend—will then take that authorisation number to their nearest collection point to obtain the antivirals.

The following tests have been conducted on the full National Pandemic Flu Service:

April to June 12: Unit and Module testing of the Public Web, Call Centre, National Pandemic Flu Service Professional (i.e. the facility for a limited number of Healthcare professionals to authorise an antiviral). This is to test that each part of the system functions as required, as it is developed. These tests were conducted and demonstrated that the system was functioning as expected. The testing approach and results were also independently reviewed.

15 to 22 June: Functional Acceptance tests. This is to test the entire system, end to end, to ensure all of its components function together as required. These tests were conducted independently of the supplier and demonstrated that the system was functioning as expected.

Further testing will be undertaken as the National Pandemic Flu Service is made ready to go live between now and the autumn. This will include a full user acceptance testing process.