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UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy

Volume 525: debated on Tuesday 22 March 2011

I am publishing today, for consultation, a new “UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy”. This cross-Government strategy updates the previous national framework, published in 2007, in the light of the experience from the H1N1 (2009) pandemic including the findings of the independent review chaired by Dame Deirdre Hine and the latest scientific evidence. The strategy has been developed jointly with the devolved Administrations.

It is vital that we remain prepared for a new pandemic, the threat of which remains undiminished. Given the uncertainty about the scale, severity and pattern of development of any future pandemic, three key principles underpin the new strategy. These are that the response to a new pandemic should be precautionary, proportionate and flexible. The draft strategy sets out our proposed strategic approach to apply these principles to pandemic preparedness.

The strategy is intended to inform the development of updated operational plans by local organisations and emergency planners. As a result of their experience in the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic, many other organisations and individuals have extensive experience of the challenges that can be posed by a pandemic and will have given these challenges much thought. The Government are keen to ensure that this experience is fully reflected. Therefore, we are inviting comments and views on the strategy set out in this document. The consultation runs until 17 June 2011. We intend to publish the finalised strategy later this year.

The strategy has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available at www.consultations.dh.gov.uk

A plan for improving the response to seasonal influenza will be published shortly.