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Swine flu: A personal experience

Fergus Walsh | 11:55 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Perhaps this post should be called Fergus With Flu, as I am off work looking after my eight-year-old son Hugo. He is on antivirals and seems to have the classic symptoms of swine flu. I have a cough and cold which may or may not be swine flu, but am steering clear of colleagues for a bit as they wouldn't thank me for spreading a virus. Had it not been for my son's symptoms, I might well have carried on as normal.

Lots of you have shared your personal experiences of swine flu, so here are mine. Our son had a temperature of 38.7C yesterday morning along with a dry cough, cold and he was generally unwell. I went to the National Pandemic Flu Service website and filled out the questionnaire and got a unique authorisation number for antivirals. So far, so good.

Then I put in our postcode and was informed that my collection point was in Slough, but it was open only from 7-10pm every day. It was now 8am and I didn't want to wait 11 hours to get his antivirals. I rang our very good GP practice in Windsor and they referred me to Berkshire East Primary Care Trust, who in turn referred me to a national helpline. The national helpline suggested I go to Reading, or Wokingham.

In the end, we did get the Tamiflu in Reading, 15 miles away, and Hugo got his first dose by mid-morning. By contrast, Reading has 13 antiviral collection points and Wokingham has four. They are open throughout the day, and both have collection points open on Sundays. Why Slough and Windsor don't have at least one collection point open during normal hours completely mystifies me. Tyron Brown, the Project Manager for System Resilience at Berkshire East PCT told me that they "monitored volumes daily" and would expand the service if required.

Hugo is a very robust lad, but yesterday he was really quite poorly and refused food. But today is a different matter and he woke up and went straight to get his advent calendar (to eat the chocolate on 1 December). He still has a hacking cough but is definitely on the mend. Any suggestions as to how I keep him amused for the next couple of days would be gratefully received.

Update 1358: The Director for Public Health for East Berkshire, Dr Pat Riordan, has called me to say that, in the light of my post, she is going to improve access to antivirals for the residents of Slough and Windsor.

A new daytime antiviral collection point is to be set up somewhere in the locality. As Dr Riordan put it to me: "I do listen to all suggestions and comments. It's not appropriate to have people hanging around half a day for their Tamiflu. We want to provide an effective and efficient service."

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