Healthcare News

UK GP Investigates Suspected Swine Flu Case Without Adequate Support Or Access To Antivirals

June 01, 2017

According to Pulse, Dr. Gregor McEwan, a GP from Clapham, South West London, has been left to investigate a suspected swine flu infection case without adequate local advice or access to antivirals. Dr. McEwan explained to Pulse how he alone is having to coordinate tests, as well as treatment for a woman who was declared as a possibly infected patient with the H1N1 virus (swine flu virus).

According to Dr. McEwan, he received little guidance from the local Health Protection Unit, the NHS (National Health Service) or his PCT.

NHS Direct told the patient, a woman who had returned to the UK from Canada via New York, to contact her GP. The woman has flu-like symptoms.

Dr McEwan told Pulse:

"I rang the local Health Protection Unit in Lambeth and spoke to a person who was blasé at best. They told me they would courier over the swabs to take and advised me to issue a prescription for Tamiflu and that's pretty much all they could help me with. I am supposed to give this woman a prescription for Tamiflu but I know for a fact she won't be able to find any pharmacist in Clapham who has it in stock; I've already called. They told me they have dealt with other practices and told them to tell any patients with suspected swine flu to come in and for GPs to see them in another room."

"Even on that advice, they would have exposed themselves to several more people. But other than the most basic hygiene measures, I have nothing I can use in terms of infection control. We have no face masks because there are none available, we have no prophylactic antivirals to take because we are not entitled."

"When I asked the HPU should I keep seeing patients in the meantime, they said yes. I asked them - what should I tell my patients? - and they said - don't tell them anything. I've been trying to get hold of someone at the PCT as well but no one is available and in any case, I have no idea what the PCT policy is or who is responsible for it. Between now and the time the swab results are confirmed I might have had 30 or 40 patient contacts. Not to mention I have a young child and a wife, who is extremely worried. I completely understand that we don't yet have an understanding of the lethality of the virus but I have a duty to my patients and the Government has a duty to me to make sure I can take the best care of my patients."

"They obviously have not thought the management of this potential health crisis through. As a GP I am happy to be responsible for suspected cases but I have to be given the practical tools to do my job. I have already had six or seven other patients call the surgery after returning from holiday in Spain and elsewhere with fever, even more patients panicking and worried staff whose fears I have to allay. I have the HPA guidance and all of that but certainly my dealing with the HPU left me feeling they were not living in the real world. If the situation carries on as it is things are going to be completely unmanageable."

PulseToday is the GP's website in the UK providing general practice news, clinical education and practice information to GPs and primary care staff. Further information on Swine Flu See a Map Of H1N1 Outbreaks See our Mexico Swine Flu Blog

View drug information on Tamiflu capsule.