Managing pandemic influenza in general practice

A guide for preparation, response and recovery
7. Response
☰ Table of contents

Response occurs at the onset of an emergency. The level of response is likely to vary during the pandemic. Initially pandemic cases may be sporadic, whereas during a peak, general practices may be inundated with patients with pandemic influenza.

General practices will be required to implement their response strategies just prior to and during a pandemic. The action(s) required will depend on the current pandemic stage as determined by the Commonwealth Government. These stages are aligned with the Commonwealth’s AHMPPI.

The four pandemic response stages include the following:

(Response) Standby stage
This stage is triggered when a warning of a pandemic has been received by an appropriate authority. Practices should have an up-to-date plan in place so they are ready to respond appropriately

(Response) Initial action stage
This stage is triggered when a declaration of pandemic influenza has been made by an appropriate authority. Practices should put their pandemic plan in place and respond to healthcare needs of the local community

(Response) Targeted action stage
This stage is triggered when there is sufficient information collected during the initial action stage to help refine the pandemic response already implemented

(Response) Stand down stage
This stage is triggered when the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) advises that the pandemic has reached a level where it can be managed under seasonal influenza arrangements

(Refer to the RACGP’s Pandemic flu kit – Implementation guide)

While this response section of this guide provides advice regarding the key response activities that practices should undertake during a pandemic, the Implementation guide provides guidance regarding the specific tasks to undertake during the relevant stages of the pandemic.

Responding to a pandemic means activating the plans made in the preparedness phase – in a manner and to a degree appropriate for the severity and intensity of the outbreak.

The quality of planning will affect the ability to respond. Strategies for implementation of pandemic plans are considered effective if they:3

  • are flexible
  • include a range of pandemic preparedness approaches applicable to different situations and include logistics
  • include communication aspects and are transparent
  • include advance stockpiling (eg. for drugs and equipment).

During the response stage the practice team will need to:

Response stages

  1. Jean-Gilles L, Hegermann-Lindencrone M, Brown C. Recommendations for good practice in pandemic preparedness: identified through evaluation of the response to pandemic (H1N1) 2009. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2010.