City leaders ready for worst of swine flu
CITY leaders preparing to cope with an expected surge in swine flu deaths this winter are considering plans to hand out medicine from town halls.
And North East council bosses are in talks with health officers over worries that vital council services could be closed down as the worsening outbreak leaves more staff stuck at home.
Plans are being formed which will see frontline staff inoculated as soon as a vaccine is made available. At the same time health agencies are looking at buildings owned by Tyneside councils to see which could be used as distribution points. The civic centre, Newcastle’s libraries and sports centres could all be used to hand over swine flu medication such as Tamiflu.
The search comes amid warnings from high street chemists they face being overwhelmed if, as expected, thousands more people become ill with the virus this winter.
All the region’s councils are revising and updating their emergency plans to take account of a likely increase in staff absentee levels which could see essential services such as gritting fleets left dangerously understaffed this winter.
As a result council drivers, bin men and other staff could be put on priority lists to ensure they are given their vaccination alongside health professionals and before the rest of the region.
Margaret Whellans, group director of community based services at Gateshead Council said: “We have robust business continuity plans in place for emergencies across the borough and this includes a strategy for dealing with pandemic flu.