The 2009 influenza pandemic: An independent review of the UK response to the 2009 influenza pandemic | National Resource for Infection Control (NRIC)

The 2009 influenza pandemic: An independent review of the UK response to the 2009 influenza pandemic

This review is one of many being conducted at every level from global to local. It has examined the strategic response in the UK, including the way in which this was planned and implemented across the four nations in the first serious health emergency since the advent of devolution. It does not focus on the operational responses to the pandemic in each of the four countries. It has sought to produce a report that identifies the lessons to be learned rather than one that second guesses the decisions made during the response The majority of the evidence revealed as a result of this process leads the author to judge that, overall, the UK response was highly satisfactory. The planning for a pandemic was well developed, the personnel involved were fully prepared, the scientific advice provided was expert, communication was excellent, the NHS and public health services right across the UK and their suppliers responded splendidly and the public response was calm and collaborative. I also found the vast majority of the reporting of the outbreak to have been highly responsible. That said, it must also be acknowledged that the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ pandemic virus was milder in its general impact than the H5N1 ‘bird flu’ expected and planned for. Despite this, the relatively few deaths that occurred, including those of otherwise healthy children and pregnant women, were particularly tragic and poignant. The pandemic and the response it generated have provided confirmation of the value of planning and preparedness and have demonstrated that the four UK governments can work together effectively and successfully to meet such an emergency. But the danger of another, more severe, pandemic has not gone away and the governments of the UK must avoid complacency and use this opportunity to learn lessons and make improvements for a future in which resources will be tight. The author has therefore sought to identify improvements that could be made so that future pandemic planning can be fine-tuned to address the characteristics of any outbreak. She has also recommended ways in which a UK-wide strategic response to a pandemic could be combined with more local operational flexibility
Dame Deirdre Hine (Cross UK Government Health Departments)