Avian or Bird Flu
What you Need to Know
Bird Flu, Your Questions Answered
Sir Liam Donaldson
Panorama brings together experts and concerned viewers to discuss what should be done if the Bird Flu pandemic should strike the UK.
Sir Liam Donaldson is the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health and is responsible for the UK's Avian Flu Contingency Plan. He receives the first question from Zozi Gallus, a mother of three young children.
She asks "As a mother of three children who are all at primary school, I'm wondering, when the first confirmed reports come through of some pandemic type flu, wouldn't the safest thing for me, as a parent, be to take my children out of school and look after them at home until the pandemic has passed?" Sir Liam considers this and replies "There may be circumstances in which it might benefit our control, of this pandemic, to close schools for a while or ask children not to come to school. But the problem with a pandemic is that it will be around for a long time. It's not like a hurricane that hits our shores and then goes away. It will probably come in several waves and, one way or another, we would expect a quarter of the population to be affected".
The next question comes from Jason Milner who studied science at university and has been taking a keen interest in the pandemic plan the department of health has put on their web site. He asks "The Intensive Care Society published a report back in September saying that the NHS probably didn't have enough acute care beds if a pandemic was to hit the UK. What have you been doing to address this situation?" Sir Liam responds "We will have a lot of pressure so we'll be working very hard to try and ensure that community services are strong so that when people feel very ill but aren't at the stage of having their lives threatened or getting serious complications like pneumonia that they're able to be cared for in the community and don't necessarily put the burden on the health service because we need to keep as much capacity as we can for the people that really need it."