HUDDERSFIELD’S hospital bosses have outlined how the Royal Infirmary would cope with a major swine flu outbreak.
Vaccinating staff, introducing facemasks and stockpiling antiviral drugs are among the measures being prepared.
The move comes as the number of Kirklees cases started to climb last week coinciding with experts’ predictions of a winter surge.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust have taken steps to agree a new document – Preparedness for A(H1N1) Swine Influenza.
The plan was presented at the Trust’s monthly board meeting yesterday ahead of the expected rise.
It details how the Trust would sustain its workforce, manage the demand for medical care and co-ordinate a response to the outbreak.
It also reveals how measures including staff facemasks could be introduced to prevent the bug spreading.
The trust is also making sure it is well stocked with antiviral medicines.
Director of nursing Helen Thomson said: “We have been updating our operations and our pandemic flu plan to show what we would do to cope with the challenges swine flu provides.
“At the moment, although we have had a quiet period, we have started to see an increase in the number of cases.
“We still don’t know if we are going to get a massive surge that is going to be problematic or if we’ll get through it with just increased activity.
“But this demonstrates we have plans in place and we will be ready to cope with it.”
The document outlines plans to vaccinate staff, increase its workforce and also considers how the trust’s critical care and children’s services would cope with the increased demand.
The board also heard how the hospital was working to predicted timescales showing what would happen most likely during a flu pandemic.
Helen added: “Our plans are not fixed. It is difficult to know how it would hit and we do not know who or how many will require intensive care or paediatric care.
“This plan is very flexible.”
The trust was required to make a public statement showing their readiness to cope with swine flu by the Department of Health.
All NHS organisations – including NHS Kirklees – will be following in their footsteps.
Finance director Mark Brearley highlighted concerns over the cost associated with a flu pandemic.
He said: “Swine flu is hotting up now and it is one of those unknowns.
“That could cause us problems as well as the primary care trust.
“We will have to wait and see.”