Intended for healthcare professionals


UK preparedness for pandemic influenza

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 10 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:965
  1. Richard Coker, reader in public health
  1. Health Policy Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  1. richard.coker{at}

    Devolving responsibility for implementation to local authorities may not be the best policy

    In the worst case scenario, a pandemic of influenza in the United Kingdom would cause 750 000 excess deaths. In the short term, gross domestic product could fall by some 0.75%, and in the longer term the cost to the nation could be around £170bn (€250bn; $350bn).

    On 16 March 2007, the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office jointly published a new draft plan for pandemic flu.1 The plan builds on and replaces the October 2005 plan.2 It is supported by a range of additional documents related to acute hospitals, health care in the community,3 an “operational and strategic framework” for adults in social care,3 guidelines for staff in social care settings,3 ambulance services,3 and an ethical framework.3 Some documents offer strategic guidance, some offer operational guidance, and others guidance for individuals. Comments are requested on all draft documents by 16 May 2007.

    The purpose of the framework is to set out the government's strategic approach to limit the domestic spread of a pandemic and minimise harms to health, the economy, and society. The document proposes …

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