NHS West Essex issues flu friend’ reminder

NHS West Essex is reminding people that they should not go to their GP, pharmacy, the Walk-in Centre or A&E if they think they have swine flu. Instead they should contact the National Pandemic Flu Service, either through the dedicated website www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu

NHS West Essex is reminding people that they should not go to their GP, pharmacy, the Walk-in Centre or A&E if they think they have swine flu.

Instead they should contact the National Pandemic Flu Service, either through the dedicated website www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu or by calling 0800 1 513 100.

Anyone diagnosed as having swine flu will be given an authorisation number which a 'flu friend' - a friend, neighbour or relative who does not have symptoms of swine flu - can use to pick up antivirals.

NHS West Essex is reiterating the message following several instances where people with flu-like symptoms have not asked their 'flu friend' but turned up themselves at our Antiviral Collection Points (ACPs) to collect their antivirals.


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Director of Public Health with NHS West Essex, Alison Cowie, said: "If you have got the flu the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay at home and rest. By staying at home you will help reduce the spread of the virus to other people in west Essex.

"We are strongly encouraging people in west Essex to talk to members of their family, friends or neighbours and agree to be 'flu friends'.

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"For the few people in west Essex who can't identify a 'flu friend', we might be able to get you your antivirals. If this is the case you need to telephone the nearest ACP to you, the details you will get from the National Pandemic Flu Service."

People calling the National Pandemic Flu Service will need to give specific details about the person with suspected swine flu and will need to have a pen and paper to write down the information they are given.

Details include their:

* date of birth

* current symptoms

* history of any serious medical conditions

* NHS number or if they are a foreign visitor their passport number or European Identity Card number postcode.

If the National Pandemic Flu Service thinks someone needs antivirals they will issue an authorisation number and it is crucial that people write this down correctly.

On arrival at the ACP the 'flu friend' must be able to prove their own identity as well as that of the person they are collecting antivirals for.

Proof of identity can one of the following:

* utility bill

* passport

* credit or debit card

* driving licence

* NHS card

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