Reviewing the UK pandemic response

 

Reviewing the UK pandemic response

 A strategic and independent review of the UK response to swine flu was announced today by the Government.

Dame Deirdre Hine, a former Welsh Chief Medical Officer, will chair the independent review to examine the pandemic response across all four UK nations. Dame Deirdre will report to Ministers with recommendations before the summer parliamentary recess (in any of the four nations of the UK).

Having planned for the event of a pandemic for a number of years, the UK was widely recognised as one of the most prepared countries in the world. Although swine flu continues to be present in the UK, it’s at the lowest level since the virus first appeared. It is now an appropriate time to begin this independent review, which will be crucial in examining how the UK responded.

This review is being conducted as part of the normal procedure following a major emergency event. The findings will be used to inform future planning for pandemics and help ensure that the UK Government’s plans remain robust.

Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that there have been at least 16,813 deaths from swine flu. There have been 457 reported and confirmed swine flu related deaths across the UK to-date. The UK Government believe that reviewing the response is a crucial step to ensuring the UK remains prepared to deal with potentially more virulent pandemics in the future.

Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, said:

'I am pleased to announce that Dame Deirdre Hine will Chair an independent review of the UK’s response to the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic.

'Almost a year ago, the world began waking up to a new flu virus that rapidly became a pandemic. The UK was fortunate to have well established plans in place to deal with it.

'I would like to take this opportunity to express the Government’s thanks to all involved in the response, especially to staff in the NHS who have dealt with millions of patients and families affected. I would also like to express my sympathies to those families who have lost loved ones.

'It is important that we look back at the lessons learnt through the review so that the UK remains one of the best prepared countries in the world, and so that we can improve our plans for any future event.'

The review team will conduct a strategic review of all the key elements of the response including interviews with key individuals involved. However, it will be for Dame Deirdre to determine precisely how she wishes to proceed.

Notes to editors

  1. The review has been jointly commissioned by all four UK administrations, and will provide recommendations to the Government before summer parliamentary recess (in any of the four nations of the UK).
  2. The Chair will start work immediately. The Review Team will be situated within the Cabinet Office, which will lead the review with the full cooperation of all the UK Health Departments.
  3. There have been 457 reported and confirmed swine flu related deaths across the UK to-date. Further suspected swine flu related deaths are still being investigated
  4. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 0207 210 5221
  5. Biography of Dame Deirdre Hine DBE FFPHM FRCP
  6. Deirdre Hine qualified in medicine at the then Welsh National School of Medicine in 1961.   After experience in hospital medicine and general practice she trained in Public Health Medicine and was appointed to a consultant post with South Glamorgan Health Authority in 1974.  She has had a varied career in both academic and NHS practice.

    She established the much applauded Welsh Breast Cancer Screening Service, Breast Test Wales, before becoming Chief Medical Officer at the Welsh Office from 1990 to 1997.  She is known widely for her co-publication with Sir Kenneth Calman of the seminal Report on Cancer Services which bears their names.

    She was awarded the DBE for Services to Medicine in 1997. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, of  the Royal College of Anaesthetists, of the Faculty of Public Health, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and an Honorary Member of the  Royal Pharmaceutical Society. She is the recipient of Honorary MDs of the University of Wales and the University of Sheffield and of numerous other honorary degrees and fellowships.

    After retirement as Chief Medical Officer she served as a member of the Audit Commission from 1997 to 1999, was elected President of the Royal Society of Medicine from 2000 to 2002, and was appointed to Chair the Commission for Health Improvement from 1999 until April 2004.  She was an Independent Member of the House of Lords Appointment Commission from 2000 to 2005,  was elected President of the BMA 2005-6 and was Chairman of the Royal Society of Medicine Press Board 2004-2008. She served from 2003-2005 as a member of the adjudication panel for the Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine a prestigious International Prize of one million US dollars awarded annually by the Shaw Foundation of Hong Kong.

    In 2004, at the request of the Northern Ireland DHSSPS, she chaired the Inquiry into the Decontamination of Endoscopes in hospitals throughout Northern Ireland

    She is currently  President of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, Chairman of the BUPA Foundation, Chairman of the IT Working party of the BMA, a Non-Executive Director of Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, a Vice - President of Marie Curie Cancer Care and of the British Lung Foundation, a member of the Ethics Committee of Dr Foster and of the Board of the Pfizer UK Foundation. In addition Dame Deirdre is currently chairing a public inquiry into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile which occurred in a group of hospitals in Northern Ireland in 2007/08. The inquiry has two purposes: to ascertain how many people died as a result of the outbreak, and to examine the experiences of those who were affected by the outbreak

    She is married to Dr Raymond Hine, a retired academic physicist, and has two sons and five grandchildren.

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