'Flu friends' to collect remedy
PEOPLE will be asked to nominate a 'flu friend' to pick up their medication if a severe swine flu pandemic hits the area.
The authority is working closely with Stoke-on-Trent NHS to produce a flu plan which details what the two organisations are doing to protect and support people against the disease.
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Mr Burgess said: "We have identified five centres from which, if needed, we can distribute the Tamiflu medication.
"One of the centres is Stoke Town Hall. People who think they may be experiencing symptoms of swine flu will call the Stoke on Call flu line and be given a reference number.
"They then need to nominate a 'flu friend' who will go to a distribution centre and give staff the reference number. They will then check the person's medical details through computers linked to the NHS website.
"The medication will then be given to the 'flu friend' to take back to the person experiencing symptoms of swine flu."
Councillor Margaret Pyatt , pictured, raised concerns about the number of people who will be contacting the Stoke on Call line.
She said: "I'm worried thousands of people could be calling the hotline and be in a queue waiting for 20 minutes or more. During that time they could be dying from swine flu."
Mr Burgess said that the flu line will go through a different number on the normal Stoke on Call line, and that there would be around 50 NHS-employed people answering the calls.
The World Health Organisation has announced the swine flu outbreak is now a pandemic, the first in more than 40 years. Two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in North Staffordshire, including a teacher from Longton's Edensor College, who contracted it during his stag party in Las Vegas.
The Health Protection Agency says there have been 1,243 cases in the West Midlands.
Mr Burgess added: "Tamiflu is not a cure, but if taken within 48 hours of first showing symptoms of swine flu, then it will reduce symptoms and allow people to get back to their normal daily lives in a shorter period of time."
Chairman of the committee, Councillor Alby Walker, said: "It sounds a complicated procedure, but well thought out.
"What is important is the need to advertise what people should do if they are experiencing swine flu symptoms and the procedure of calling the Stoke on Call flu line and nominating a 'flu friend' to collect medication."