An official inquiry finds that the UK was well prepared for the swine flu pandemic

An independent review into the UK’s strategic response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic has been published.

The review outlined 28 recommendations that aim to improve a future response, strengthen the development and handling of scientific advice, and improve how government communicates with the public.

The review was intended to scrutinize the way government departments worked together to manage the domestic consequences of the pandemic.

The UK government was sharply criticised for overreacting and raising public fears about a swine flu pandemic that turned out to be relatively mild and which caused less deaths than the average seasonal flu.

StrategicRISK reported how this overreaction made a crisis out of a drama

Ultimately the report found that the UK was well prepared for an influenza pandemic having stockpiled drugs and planned the purchase of 132m doses of vaccine, sufficient to protect the whole population.

“I found that those preparations were soundly based in terms of value for money, reflecting the inherently low cost of vaccination in relation to the value of lives saved,” said Dame Deirdre Joan Hine, chair of the Commission for Health Improvement and author of the report.

The H1N1 pandemic which emerged in 2009 turned out to be a relatively mild illness for most of those affected, though for some people its effects were very serious.

A total of 457 people are known to have died during the pandemic in the UK as of 18 March 2010.

“Overall,” said Hine. “I consider this response to have been proportionate and effective. There is much good practice on which to build and the recommendations presented here are a recognition that we should always aim to improve systems and the way in which services are planned and delivered.”

To download a copy of the report click here.