Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Still Counting the Cost of Swine Flu Scare; More Than Pounds 2m Spent in the NorthEast

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Still Counting the Cost of Swine Flu Scare; More Than Pounds 2m Spent in the NorthEast

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

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HEALTH chiefs spent more than pounds 2m in the North East on the swine flu scare, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

A survey of 107 Primary Care Trusts in England highlights the cost of responding to swine flu was pounds 340,000 on average for every trust.

But in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland the cost in 2009/10 was higher than the national average, with pounds 600,000 being spent by each PCT.

Meanwhile in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland the costs ran to pounds 266,667 for each trust.

In total pounds 2,600,001 was spent on battling the pandemic which cost 16 lives in the North East and 298 nationally - normal flu costs the lives of more than 1,000 people each year.

The money was invested in anti-viral collection points, storage and distribution of anti-virals and vaccines, additional equipment, staff training and public awareness campaigns.

Health bosses last night insisted no trust in the region would have to scale-back their services in order to accommodate the significant amount spent. Martin Wilson, of NHS North East said: "Resources for pandemic flu are allocated as part of NHS ongoing emergency planning arrangements.

"As soon as swine flu arrived, all NHS North East organisations worked quickly to identify and refine resources to deal with the logistics of managing swine flu. NHS services in the region coped very well with the additional pressures of swine flu, ensuring business as usual throughout the pandemic period and no compromise in the delivery of other services".

A spokesperson for NHS North of Tyne, working on behalf of Newcastle and North Tyneside Primary Care Trusts and Northumberland Care Trust said: "We have continuous plans in place for a flu pandemic as part of our ongoing emergency preparedness and business continuity. …

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