Thursday 6th December 1990   Morning coffee break  11.55 

“The government are launching the new Community Influenza Rapid Action Teams tomorrow, Lois.” Mrs Andrea Jones came into the staff room carrying a large glossy brochure.
Dr Lewis looked up. “Really!”
“Yes, it all sounds very impressive. There is going to be a 24 hour help line manned by specialist nurses and doctors from Public Health. They will make a detailed telephone assessment of each patient. Low risk patients with uncomplicated flu will be given the usual advice.”
“Plenty of fluids and paracetamol?”
“Exactly! High risk patients with uncomplicated flu will be offered antiviral antibiotics. They will be able to pick these up from their local pharmacists.”
“It does sound good, Andrea.” Dr Lewis looked visibly excited.
“We will still need to see patients in the practice with suspected chest infections or other complications.”
“I have no objection to that.”
“The most seriously ill patients, those who are too poorly to come to the surgery, will be visited at home by our own Local Community Influenza Rapid Action Team Flying Squad. The flying squad is a hand-picked unit of highly trained intensive care and respiratory consultants with full nursing and ancillary back up. They expect to be able to visit up to 100 patients a day in our area. They are hoping that, with early and comprehensive support, they may be able to prevent the majority of hospital admissions.”
“That’s fantastic, Andrea. It should significantly reduce our workload.” Dr Lewis looked delighted.
“Yes, they estimate that it should cut the additional GP workload during an epidemic by 75%, Lois. We will be able to get on with our normal day-to-day activities.”
“It’s not like the government to think ahead or put extra resources in like this.”
“The chances are, by the time they get all this organised, the flu outbreak will be over.” My Dad said.
“Don’t be so cynical, Desmond! In fact, I phoned the helpline this morning and got straight through to a very nice lady. She told me that they are fully staffed and have actually got reserve teams in place.”
“I can’t believe this, Desmond. It’s too good to be true! We are going to have a very relaxing winter.”
“Yes, it is too good to be true, Lois. Andrea is pulling your leg. It was her idea of a little joke. She knows how worked up you get when the flu starts. It will be backs to the wall, no lunch and late nights as usual, I’m afraid.” My Dad chuckled.
Dr Lewis looked horrified. “That’s really mean, Andrea! If there are no Community Influenza Rapid Action Teams, what’s that brochure?”
“It’s the House of Fraser Christmas Catalogue, Lois. Would you like to borrow it?”

If you’ve got the flu, dial 222!