Managing pandemic influenza in general practice

A guide for preparation, response and recovery
6.1 Planning for a pandemic
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The main strategy for practice preparedness is to develop a pandemic plan for the practice that identifies key risks and key tasks, and clarifies key roles and responsibilities. The plan explains how the practice intends to operate before and during a pandemic.

Plans considered the most useful offer a framework rather than overly specified and complex responses. Planning should be based not only on worst-case scenarios, but be flexible and adaptable to accommodate pandemics of varying impact.22

So that general practices can operate effectively, both during and after a pandemic, a well-thought-out pandemic plan is essential. A comprehensive and useful pandemic plan needs to:

  • clearly identify the pandemic leader and pandemic coordinator and outline the responsibilities for these roles and other practice staff (these two roles may be undertaken by the same person)
  • list essential pandemic resources including key stakeholders, such as hospitals and diagnostic services
  • describe effective communication strategies to utilise existing health networks and available infrastructure
  • document infection control policies and identify triage algorithms for the management of suspected and known cases
  • identify contingency arrangements for business continuity, including planning for absenteeism and use of alternative work processes (eg. work from home, e-consulting, hospital in the home, flu clinics and re-arrangement of workflow)
  • identify contingency arrangements for patients with particular needs (eg. vulnerable groups, patients with comorbidities)
  • outline the support the practice will provide for people in home isolation and/or quarantine.

Once the plan has been developed, it is crucial that staff are aware of the plan and receive appropriate education and training. 

  1. van der Sande MA, Jacobi A, Meijer A, Wallinga J, van der Hoek W, van der Lubben M. The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. Management and vaccination strategies in The Netherlands. Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2013;56:67–75.