The swine influenza (H1N1 09) outbreak in Victoria has provided an excellent opportunity to review the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza (AHMPPI) and to assess its performance in practice.
General practitioners play a major role in seasonal flu management, and it was expected that the AHMPPI would enable GPs on the front line to maintain this central role during the swine flu pandemic.
The role of front-line GPs has been made extremely difficult by deficiencies in implementation of the AHMPPI, including resource supply failures, time-consuming administrative burdens, delays in receiving laboratory test results and approval for provision of oseltamivir to patients, and a lack of clear communication about policy changes as the situation progressed.
We must use this experience to ensure timely and appropriate review of the AHMPPI and the way it is implemented. Better consultation with front-line clinicians, particularly GPs, is crucial and must occur as a matter of urgent priority.
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