No complacency despite low number of West Herts swine flu cases

DESPITE predictions that thousands of local people would be affected by swine flu and hundreds hospitalised, the situation in West Herts is far less dramatic. In the last three weeks there have only been 29 cases of suspected swine flu admitted and the va

DESPITE predictions that thousands of local people would be affected by swine flu and hundreds hospitalised, the situation in West Herts is far less dramatic.

In the last three weeks there have only been 29 cases of suspected swine flu admitted and the vast majority of the cases proved negative after testing.

There have been no proven cases in intensive care and no attributable deaths - even though the Health Protection Agency warned that in West Herts 40,000 would be affected, 400 people hospitalised and 100 needing intensive care during the first wave of the pandemic.

Instead the West Herts Hospitals Trust has seen a decrease in people attending hospital as more take the advice on offer and there has been no increase in the numbers of people going to A&E at Watford or the Urgent Care Centre at Hemel Hempstead.


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But the trust said this week that it was not complacent and was confident that should worse predictions come true, it had robust plans in place to deal with the situation.

It has already consulted staff about possibly redeploying them from back office functions to more frontline activity by working in different areas around the hospitals to ensure there is maximum support available for the most sick and vulnerable patients.

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In addition the trust has taken precautionary measures to help prevent the flu virus spreading to patients and hospital staff, including limiting visitors to two per bed at any one time and asking anyone with signs or symptoms of swine flu to stay away.

Children, as rapid spreaders of infection, are being stopped from visiting patients in hospital wards without prior permission from ward staff.

Graham Ramsay, the trust's medical director and director of patient safety, said: "We have been preparing our contingency plans in the event of a pandemic flu for some time so I am very pleased to say that we were able to deal with the situation as soon as it occurred.

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