Posted by: ctleurope | July 24, 2009

Swine flu – we’re getting pig sick of it


On May 8th we blogged how the UK’s National Flu Line was 12 months behind schedule just as Swine Flu assumed the status of a pandemic.

Two weeks ago we asked if the pandemic was progressing to pandemonium, in view of the marked increase in the number of swine flu cases. Today, we note an article pointing to 100,000 new UK swine flu cases within a week, nearly double the count for the previous week.

No doubt prompted by CTL’s blog last week, a national swine flu service, including a phone helpline for infected people, went live on 24th July. Unfortunately, the phoneline for this Government’s National Flu Pandemic Service (or GNFPS for those in the know) crashed too. It really is ‘national’ too, supporting only English residents.

Part of the new service is a government website to help diagnose people with swine flu. This has similarly experienced “unprecedented demand” and crashed within minutes of launch. The Government said the system was receiving 2,600 hits per second – or 9.3 million hits per hour (that’s more than the website. Note to self: fewer obvious plugs).

A spokesman for the Patients Association said, with admirable restraint: “It’s disappointing to hear that the service was not able to meet demand.”

Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, pointed to people visiting the site out of “curiosity” – that’ll be the same curiosity that killed the cat and 31 UK flu victims to date.

Amongst the populace, the talk however is of the Tamiflu distribution service being exploited by healthy but concerned people willing to fib to obtain the drugs, should they contract swine flu in the future. Peter Holden, representing the British Medical Association for the flu pandemic, admits that abuse of the system could lead to shortages. He added “people need to show a little of the Dunkirk spirit and take what they need.” Not a most reassuring reference point when you note the number of casualties on the beaches.

The swine flu service GNFPS is being staffed by more than 1,500 call centre workers with the Department of Health saying it would add 500 more if necessary. They’re estimated to be capable of handling more than 200,000 calls per 15-hour day which equates to more than a million calls a week.

Despite today’s frivolous tone on a serious matter, CTL Europe is primed to help, should many of your staff be off sick and you need help handling calls or a temporary new space to support your business.

Your thoughts? We’ll be pleased to hear from you.



  1. I tried to get through to the swine flu line but all I got was crackling

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