Conflict in swine flu advice denied
Health Secretary Andy Burnham denied that conflicting advice had been issued to pregnant women over swine flu as he maintained the NHS had dealt "fantastically well" with the virus.
Mr Burnham urged the country to "have confidence" in the handling of swine flu, saying preparations for tackling the illness were the best in the world.
"There isn't conflicting advice. The advice has been clear all along that women who are pregnant should take extra precautions as they would anyway - they should really follow the advice about hand hygiene, they should consider avoiding crowded places," he told GMTV.
"This is the advice we have given out all of the way."
His remarks came as he was due to update MPs on swine flu, including the launch of the national pandemic flu service on Thursday, aimed at easing pressure on frontline NHS staff.
"This service is the first of its kind in the world, it is a new service and it is giving people a way of getting medication without going through the normal channels; hopefully they will get it more quickly," he said.
Mr Burnham urged a sense of "perspective" on the virus. He said: "It really is important to keep everything in perspective. This is a mild virus... and there have been thousands of people already who have had it and made a quick recovery."
He added: "We have got the best preparations in place to deal with this and we are dealing with it fantastically well. The NHS is a wonderfully resilient organisation and it has absorbed the extra pressure it has been under. GPs, in particular, have done a fantastic job around the country.
"Our plans are, according to the World Health Organisation, not me, the best preparations in the world."
Mr Burnham's comments follow attempts by health officials to allay fears over the impact of the illness on pregnant women and young children over the weekend. The Department of Health (DH) clarified its advice on how expectant mothers should protect themselves following a series of apparently mixed messages.