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Live webchat with Health Secretary Andy Burnham today (Weds 22 July) 2.30-3.30pm

(276 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Jul-09 20:00:24

We're delighted to announce that Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health, will be joining us on Mumsnet tomorrow (Wednesday 22 July) between 2.30pm and 3.30pm for a live webchat, during which he's promised to answer your questions about swine flu (and anything else you'd like to know).

Andy has been Health Secretary since June this year. He is also MP for Leigh in Greater Manchester, was born in Liverpool, has three children, supports Everton and, apparently, plays a mean riff on the guitar.

Because of the last-minute scheduling of this webchat, we're NOT taking advance questions, so stand by your keyboards at 2.30pm tomorrow (or get someone else to ask your question if you can't be there)!

Rachmumoftwo Tue 21-Jul-09 20:11:15

Blimey, he must be feeling brave! wink

LuluMaman Tue 21-Jul-09 20:37:21

<warms up fingers for maternity services related questions>>

<<makes sure there are plenty of tissues, anti bac hand gel and face masks to hand>>

mosschops30 Tue 21-Jul-09 20:42:30

yes as a pg woman, lots Id like to know too

hester Tue 21-Jul-09 20:51:37

Someone at the Department of Health told me that they're never off Mumsnet (in a professional capacity, of course) grin

scrappydappydoo Tue 21-Jul-09 21:20:48

Eh? Surely it would easier to ask lots of questions in advance so he can reply properly??

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 21-Jul-09 21:44:27

On Breakfast yesterday morning (Monday) you were asked how many people had died didn't have underlying health issues. You dodged the question saying that you would answer it in your statement to the house of commons in the afternoon, which I listened to and you didn't.

So how many who have died have no underlying health conditions as I feel that we the public, the people who elected you, have a right to know how seriously we should be taking this.

MollieOolala Tue 21-Jul-09 21:44:42

Bet he cancels. He has a reputation for doing that.

Easier to not have questions in advance as he can't be made to answer them, can he? Instead he will be able to pick and choose what he wants to answer. Bit of a cop out imo.

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 21-Jul-09 21:45:37

Nd if anyone could ask that tomorrow I would be grateful.

Marking my place as I have a lot of questions.
But why does it have to be over the school run???

BoffinMum Tue 21-Jul-09 22:52:06

Why is nobody giving advice about breastfeeding?

LeninGrad Tue 21-Jul-09 22:56:06

Can't make the chat as at an antenatal appt but if someone could ask some of these, I'd be grateful.

It'd be really helpful if we could get some clarity on if/how/why they think this strain may be disproportionally affecting pg women.

Essentially, I think we need to know what other health conditions, if any, the pg women in intensive care or who died may have or have had, what actual complication it is that they are having (pneumonia?) and what, if anything, we can do to recognise deterioration in order to act quickly (if that helps).

I'd like to see more info on Relenza as a prophylactic, not sure that message is getting through.

Also, some info on numbers of pg women hospitalised with complications from seasonal flu would be helpful too, along with outcomes of course.

Finally, is it thought that this strain can cross the placenta and what are the implications of that if so?

It seems to me either the media is being a bit irresponsible in its reporting, or the govt isn't doing enough to explain the risks or issues, or possibly a bit of both.

GIvePeasAChance Tue 21-Jul-09 23:02:41

Can you ask him how he got the job?

GIvePeasAChance Tue 21-Jul-09 23:06:00

Perhaps also why he buys £19.99 bath robes from Ikea? John Lewis have a far superior range.

GIvePeasAChance Tue 21-Jul-09 23:09:28

And finally, is Swine flu a welcome diversion from the disgrace of the commons expenses scandal and the total lack of integrity amongst MPs?

Rindercella Tue 21-Jul-09 23:20:32

I like your style GivePeas grin

1dilemma Tue 21-Jul-09 23:22:53

oh yes agree with the advance questions and the reason why we're not allowed to ask them.

Would anyone like to ask him why it is so hard to get an appointment? I am currently proofreading my complaint letter to the chief exec because I was refused a 24 week scan (I admit I turned up 15 mins late but I was kept waiting over an hour for my 12 week scan and tube delays aren't my fault) I was disconnected from the GP 4 times this morning in an attempt to get my next antenatal appointment and I have pretty much given up trying to get my kids their routine jabs I am fed up of being told there are no appointments left and I have to phone back between 8.45 and 8.50 in 3.5 weeks time on any day except one with a y in it!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 00:08:01

Hi all, the reason why we've steered away from advance questions is because it's such late notice - we just know, best will in the world, they'll be no time to look/prepare answers in advance. So, given that, we're going to try to cover as much ground as possible in the allotted time tomorrow.

The Minister may not get to every question asked but I'm sure he'll do his best. Carrie and I are going along to Whitehall tomorrow to pin him down try to help him cover as much ground as possible in the time. But bear with us/him - we do just have a precious hour and as you can imagine he's a busy man right now. If you want to try and prioritise questions in advance on this thread, do feel free.
Cheers.

elkiedee Wed 22-Jul-09 00:12:26

Please could someone ask these two questions for me (we're taking our two sons to meet their paternal grandmother, ds2 for the 1st time).

1. What do you think the government could do to improve support within the NHS for those women who want to breastfeed but give up much earlier than they expected or planned to?

2. Could someone ask about breastfeeding in public and protecting the right of all women to feed their babies/young children in public (and not just up to 6 months either). Can't quite put the words together properly, sorry!

LeninGrad Wed 22-Jul-09 00:23:28

I prioritise mine smile

Grendle Wed 22-Jul-09 01:02:25

I can't make it sad.

Please can someone ask these for me:

I would like to know what he thinks of the RCOG/RCM guidelines on swine flu and pregnancy. In particular, as access to homebirths can be so variable anyway, will their advice that if services are stretched generally then homebirth services may be cancelled be used as an excuse to deny women the choices they want in birthing? What will be done to ensure this isn't the case?

Also, if services get really stretched due to staff illness, how will they make sure that breastfeeding and other postnatal needs are fully supported? Particularly if as RCOG/RCM suggest women may be encouraged out of hospital faster and not receive postnatal home visits from midwives. Will all hospitals be actively promoting referrals to the voluntary breastfeeding helplines as a backup?

Please could more information about relenza and any flu vaccine and pregnancy be provided in order that pregnant women can make informed decisions about whether or not to take up these options. Simply saying 'this is what we recommend, there's no evidence of harm' isn't really reassuring enough, nor enough info on which to make a judgement. Pregnant women are not sheep smile.

Why has all formula advertising including follow-on formula not yet been banned? These products are used and needed by lots of people, but they don't need to be advertised. Impartial information on formula and bottle feeding would be better than marketing.

Grendle Wed 22-Jul-09 01:04:51

Although there are officially no advance questions, don't you think the DH press office would be a bit dim if they aren't watching this thread tomorrow morning to make sure he's well briefed hmm?

Bramshott Wed 22-Jul-09 09:13:35

Blimey - what a time to take over as Health Secretary! He was rather good as Culture Secretary though . . .

manfrom Wed 22-Jul-09 09:39:31

Pity that there are no advance questions. I'd like to know if he regrets accusing David Davies of having "late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls" (fnarr fnarr) with Shami Chakrabati........

wink

From the NICE guidelines published today:

www.nice.org.uk/CG89

Ensuring access to appropriate medical care or treatment
1.3.9 Consider neglect if parents or carers fail to administer essential prescribed treatment for their child.

1.3.10 Consider neglect if parents or carers repeatedly fail to attend essential follow-up appointments that are necessary for their child’s health and wellbeing.

1.3.11 Consider neglect if parents or carers persistently fail to engage with relevant child health promotion programmes which include:
• immunisation
• health and development reviews
• screening.

You gotta be kidding right?

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 22-Jul-09 10:50:41

OK to help ensure tht no-one gets missed thought I'd put them all together in one place so its easier to work through.

1) By FiveGoMadInDorset on Tue 21-Jul-09 21:44:27
On Breakfast yesterday morning (Monday) you were asked how many people had died didn't have underlying health issues. You dodged the question saying that you would answer it in your statement to the house of commons in the afternoon, which I listened to and you didn't.

So how many who have died have no underlying health conditions as I feel that we the public, the people who elected you, have a right to know how seriously we should be taking this.

2) By BoffinMum on Tue 21-Jul-09 22:52:06
Why is nobody giving advice about breastfeeding?

3)By LeninGrad on Tue 21-Jul-09 22:56:06
Can't make the chat as at an antenatal appt but if someone could ask some of these, I'd be grateful.

It'd be really helpful if we could get some clarity on if/how/why they think this strain may be disproportionally affecting pg women.

Essentially, I think we need to know what other health conditions, if any, the pg women in intensive care or who died may have or have had, what actual complication it is that they are having (pneumonia?) and what, if anything, we can do to recognise deterioration in order to act quickly (if that helps).

I'd like to see more info on Relenza as a prophylactic, not sure that message is getting through.

Also, some info on numbers of pg women hospitalised with complications from seasonal flu would be helpful too, along with outcomes of course.

Finally, is it thought that this strain can cross the placenta and what are the implications of that if so?

It seems to me either the media is being a bit irresponsible in its reporting, or the govt isn't doing enough to explain the risks or issues, or possibly a bit of both.

4) By GIvePeasAChance on Tue 21-Jul-09 23:02:41
Can you ask him how he got the job?

And finally, is Swine flu a welcome diversion from the disgrace of the commons expenses scandal and the total lack of integrity amongst MPs?

5) By 1dilemma on Tue 21-Jul-09 23:22:53
oh yes agree with the advance questions and the reason why we're not allowed to ask them.

Would anyone like to ask him why it is so hard to get an appointment? I am currently proofreading my complaint letter to the chief exec because I was refused a 24 week scan (I admit I turned up 15 mins late but I was kept waiting over an hour for my 12 week scan and tube delays aren't my fault) I was disconnected from the GP 4 times this morning in an attempt to get my next antenatal appointment and I have pretty much given up trying to get my kids their routine jabs I am fed up of being told there are no appointments left and I have to phone back between 8.45 and 8.50 in 3.5 weeks time on any day except one with a y in it!

6) By elkiedee on Wed 22-Jul-09 00:12:26
Please could someone ask these two questions for me (we're taking our two sons to meet their paternal grandmother, ds2 for the 1st time).

1. What do you think the government could do to improve support within the NHS for those women who want to breastfeed but give up much earlier than they expected or planned to?

2. Could someone ask about breastfeeding in public and protecting the right of all women to feed their babies/young children in public (and not just up to 6 months either). Can't quite put the words together properly, sorry!

7) By Grendle on Wed 22-Jul-09 01:02:25
I can't make it sad.

Please can someone ask these for me:

I would like to know what he thinks of the RCOG/RCM guidelines on swine flu and pregnancy. In particular, as access to homebirths can be so variable anyway, will their advice that if services are stretched generally then homebirth services may be cancelled be used as an excuse to deny women the choices they want in birthing? What will be done to ensure this isn't the case?

Also, if services get really stretched due to staff illness, how will they make sure that breastfeeding and other postnatal needs are fully supported? Particularly if as RCOG/RCM suggest women may be encouraged out of hospital faster and not receive postnatal home visits from midwives. Will all hospitals be actively promoting referrals to the voluntary breastfeeding helplines as a backup?

Please could more information about relenza and any flu vaccine and pregnancy be provided in order that pregnant women can make informed decisions about whether or not to take up these options. Simply saying 'this is what we recommend, there's no evidence of harm' isn't really reassuring enough, nor enough info on which to make a judgement. Pregnant women are not sheep smile.

Why has all formula advertising including follow-on formula not yet been banned? These products are used and needed by lots of people, but they don't need to be advertised. Impartial information on formula and bottle feeding would be better than marketing.

8) By manfrom on Wed 22-Jul-09 09:39:31
Pity that there are no advance questions. I'd like to know if he regrets accusing David Davies of having "late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls" (fnarr fnarr) with Shami Chakrabati........

9) By StarlightMcKenzie on Wed 22-Jul-09 10:19:07
From the NICE guidelines published today:

www.nice.org.uk/CG89

Ensuring access to appropriate medical care or treatment
1.3.9 Consider neglect if parents or carers fail to administer essential prescribed treatment for their child.

1.3.10 Consider neglect if parents or carers repeatedly fail to attend essential follow-up appointments that are necessary for their child’s health and wellbeing.

1.3.11 Consider neglect if parents or carers persistently fail to engage with relevant child health promotion programmes which include:
• immunisation
• health and development reviews
• screening.

You gotta be kidding right?

10) LoveBeingAMummy, At what point would movement be restricted due to swine flu? Also What is being done about the ongoing issues with maternity services, the lack of midwifes, the terrible hospital services, no resources to support everyone who wants a home birth, poor support for breastfeeding etc. Thanks

TallulahToo Wed 22-Jul-09 10:52:13

I can't make it either &, for once, have a question that I really would like an answer to:

Swine flu not only a particular hazard to pregnant mums but also to the under 5's. Why then does the government not advocate closing of school nurseries when a case is found?

sarah293 Wed 22-Jul-09 11:03:07

cant make it but maybe he can answer why a disabled child now has to have pressure sores from a too-small wheelchair before they can be assessed for the next size up?

atlantis Wed 22-Jul-09 11:13:28

SM,

don't you know by now this government brings in legislation to enable the SS to steal
take children into care so they can indoctronate bring them up to state values?

Us mothers are just breeding vessles, not educated in the ways of socialist Labour teachings on how children should behave, what their values should be, where as Labour have been social engineering molding children for the past 12 years to their standards. Which is why we have so many lost violent dumbed down well adjusted children now.

atlantis Wed 22-Jul-09 11:22:26

Are Mr Burnhams children going to be vaccinated in the first 'untested' wave to come from the manufacturer or is he going to wait until the vaccine has been proven before allowing his children to have the shots?

Has his children been vaccinated with the MMR or did he opt for single doses?

Does he believe it is right to carry on innoculating teenage girls against cirvical cancer in light of the deaths and paralysis that have occured when many of these girls would not have gone on to get cancer in the first place?

Okay, Can you please ask him:

Why is the waiting list in Hertfordshire for a CDAC appointment from first referral, 16 months long for a 2year old with autism, when all evidence shows that early intervention is key?

Does he think that, given the length of the waiting list, that it is acceptable for autism services should be withheld 'pending' diagnosis?

TallulahToo Wed 22-Jul-09 11:47:12

Mr Burnham, I just wanted to echo Sarlights question.

Early intervention for autism is a proven key to successful outcomes for autistic children so...

WHEN will the government step-up their early investigation and diagnosis?,

When will the government actually put together a real programme for professionals to work to?

When will the government recognise that support to the whole family, for all disabilities, is another key?

When will parent-carer's be given more support to access programmes?

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 11:54:05

I am quite nervous about swine flu as am pregnant and have a 2 year old. Will vaccines be available to us and if so when? How do we know that vaccinnes won't hurt my unborn baby?

How many of the pregnant women who have died did not have underlying health problems?

Has the early years national curriculum given the NHS an excuse to withdraw/minimise all theraputic services to under 5s, and claim that they are now the remit of education?

Sorry, lots of questions.

Are there figures available on how many pregnant women with swine flu have miscarried?

Ripeberry Wed 22-Jul-09 14:12:41

Shocking! Basically you will be MADE to vaccinate your child. Blimey that Torchwood episode comes to mind [shock}

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:16:58

I'm a hcp, I'm already aware of the strain on critical care beds during a normal winter, I feel extremely anxious about this winter as there will simply not be enough itu/hdu beds available.

SpookyJules Wed 22-Jul-09 14:17:23

Could Mr Burnham tell us the proportion of pregnant women who contracted swine flu that have died? We've heard how many pregnant women have died but not how many pregnant women contracted it that only had mild symptoms and were ok.

SpookyJules Wed 22-Jul-09 14:18:46

Could Mr Burnham tell us the proportion of pregnant women who contracted swine flu that have been ok? We've heard how many pregnant women have died but not how many pregnant women contracted it that only had mild symptoms and were ok.

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 14:25:35

Mr Burnham, please could you ensure that your staff update the swine flu advice line with the correct number to call to access treatment? This simple point would do much to reduce the confusion that is upsetting so many people.

I'm 15 weeks pregnant and last Wednesday I fell ill with the flu. I rang the number on the Swine Flu information leaflet all households have received and the recorded message told me to ring my GP - so I did.

The receptionist there told me to ring NHS direct or the "local co-ordination centre". I queried which of the 2 she'd recommend hmm - she said ring the co-ordination centre. I queued for 15 mins but then spoke to a very helpful man who prescribed Relenza and suggested I also contact my midwife.

In addition to Leningrad's questions, please could you also outline what continuity planning is being undertaken in hospitals to ensure that this country's already overstretched midwifery service gets support so that midwives are there when we need them when the time comes to deliver our babies?

Also please could you confirm whether hospitals will be given guidance to offer reassurance scans to mothers-to-be who have taken Relenza (bearing in mind the lack of data about this drug)?

While I realise you may not be able to offer answers to these questions straight away, I would expect your office to research, co-ordinate and provide FULL answers to all of our questions to be posted on this site within the next few days (and certainly before next Wednesday) if you are really committed to the idea of open, accessible government for all and to providing information to reassure us. Thank you.

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:27:02

Also, worried that other serious conditons may get overlooked by GP..eg meningitits, similar symptoms

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 14:27:12

I believe that there is vast over-diagnosis of Swine Flu going on in hot spot areas. Children who have the slightest temperature and any two other symptoms are diagnosed with it and handed Tamiflu which many of them probably don't need. Surely this means the figures are over-estimates of the true spread of the disease?

I'd like to know what proportion of swabbed suspected cases have actually tested positive for SF (I believe that small numbers are still being swabbed) and what proportion actually had other illnesses.

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 14:30:20

test test

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:30:56

Is he on his way MNHQ?

SpookyJules Wed 22-Jul-09 14:32:24

Live questions yet? Could Mr Burnham tell us the proportion of pregnant women who contracted swine flu that have been ok? We've heard how many pregnant women have died but not how many pregnant women contracted it that only had mild symptoms and were ok.

megcleary Wed 22-Jul-09 14:32:29

I have read thet it would be best NOT to close schools in september and allow children to get immunity before the the winter version of a flu appears, do have any comment on this?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:32:50

Oh, that'll be a yes.

Hi.

We are exercised about the possibility of school closures in the autumn. Could you clarify the govt's position on this and let us know what factors will influence the decision to do so, how such a policy would be applied, whether it will also apply to other settings where children will gather (childcare settings, play settings etc)?

Could you clarify if this is indeed a potential decision, what protections will be in place to protect working parents' employment rights?

JimmyMcNulty Wed 22-Jul-09 14:33:32

Why can I not get an appointment to see a GP at my local practice (except for WEEKS in advance) except by ringing up at 8am on the dot for an 'emergency' appointment on the day? This was the same at my last GP practice as well before we moved area and I'm told it's so that they hit targets. Are you looking at fixing this?

Hello Andy.
Welcome to Mumsnet.

Lots of us are pregnant right now and we don't feel like we're getting a lot of information about how the illness affects the majority of pregnant women. For instance, how many only get mild symptoms? How many have miscarried?

yappybluedog Wed 22-Jul-09 14:33:52

Mr Burnham, I notice you are MP for Leigh - do you enjoy a bowl of lobbies for tea sometimes?

If you are ever in Asda do say hello to my sister

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 14:34:10

i want to know what the underlying health conditions that the people are dying from are? my son has heart defect im worried sick hes fought for life im not losing him to this virus!

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 14:34:24

Hello - I am pregnant and worried about Swine Flu. My family aer meant to be going to an outdoor festival this weekend but are thinking of cancelling as this will be a crowded environment, however I also work in London and have to commute by train and tube every day. How can an outdoor event not be okay to attend but travelling on the train and tube (which are both just cublices for germs) be okay? Also - my son is looked after by a child minder whose daughter attends school. Is it still safe for him to be looked after her if her daughter is at greater risk of being exposed to oter children who may have the illness?

Thanks

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:34:30

Hello Mr Burnham, could you tell me what plans are in place to increase critical care capacity nationally for the winter?

Mr Burnham,
Please could you clarify which agencies are responsible for issuing advice to the public with regards to H1N1 flu? We seem to receive advice from the HPA, the Dept of Health, RCGP, Royal College of Midwives, NCT, Local Authorities etc. We also see papers being issued by various research groups and that being touted as advice.

If we had once source of Official Advice it would be be less confusing and less worrying for the public. There is too much conflicting advice out there.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 14:35:51

Hello, Carrie and I are here at Whitehall in the corridors of power. Andy will be with us imminently (we hope), so we thought we'd recap the swine flu questions as that is the most pressing subject du jour. We'll get going as soon as he comes through the door.

LeninGrad: It'd be really helpful if we could get some clarity on if/how/why they think this strain may be disproportionally affecting pregnant women.

Essentially, I think we need to know what other health conditions, if any, the pregnant women in intensive care or who died may have or have had, what actual complication it is that they are having (pneumonia?) and what, if anything, we can do to recognise deterioration in order to act quickly (if that helps).

And
Could Mr Burnham tell us the proportion of pregnant women who contracted swine flu that have been ok? We've heard how many pregnant women have died but not how many pregnant women contracted it that only had mild symptoms and were ok.

I'd like to see more info on Relenza as a prophylactic, not sure that message is getting through.

Also, some info on numbers of pregnant women hospitalised with complications from seasonal flu would be helpful too, along with outcomes of course.

Finally, is it thought that this strain can cross the placenta and what are the implications of that, if so?

It seems to me either the media is being a bit irresponsible in its reporting, or the govt isn't doing enough to explain the risks or issues, or possibly a bit of both.

Grendle: I would like to know what he thinks of the RCOG/RCM guidelines on swine flu and pregnancy. In particular, as access to homebirths can be so variable anyway, will their advice that if services are stretched generally then homebirth services may be cancelled be used as an excuse to deny women the choices they want in birthing? What will be done to ensure this isn't the case?

Also, if services get really stretched due to staff illness, how will they make sure that breastfeeding and other postnatal needs are fully supported? Particularly, if as RCOG/RCM suggest, women may be encouraged out of hospital faster and not receive postnatal home visits from midwives. Will all hospitals be actively promoting referrals to the voluntary breastfeeding helplines as a backup?

Please could more information about Relenza and any flu vaccine and pregnancy be provided in order that pregnant women can make informed decisions about whether or not to take up these options. Simply saying 'this is what we recommend, there's no evidence of harm' isn't really reassuring enough, nor enough info on which to make a judgement. Pregnant women are not sheep smile.

Stigaloid: I am quite nervous about swine flu as am pregnant and have a two year old. Will vaccines be available to us and if so when? How do we know that vaccinnes won't hurt my unborn baby?

How many of the pregnant women who have died did not have underlying health problems?

kathyis6incheshigh: Are there figures available on how many pregnant women with swine flu have miscarried?

TallulahToo: Swine flu not only a particular hazard to pregnant mums but also to the under 5s. Why then does the government not advocate closing of school nurseries when a case is found?

BoffinMum: Why is nobody giving advice about breastfeeding?

FiveGoMadInDorset: On Breakfast yesterday morning (Monday) you were asked how many people had died didn't have underlying health issues. You dodged the question saying that you would answer it in your statement to the house of commons in the afternoon, which I listened to and you didn't.

So how many who have died have no underlying health conditions as I feel that we the public, the people who elected you, have a right to know how seriously we should be taking this.

LoveBeingAMummy: At what point would movement be restricted due to swine flu? Also what is being done about the ongoing issues with maternity services, the lack of midwifes, the terrible hospital services, no resources to support everyone who wants a home birth, poor support for breastfeeding etc. Thanks.

atlantis: Are Mr Burnham's children going to be vaccinated in the first 'untested' wave to come from the manufacturer, or is he going to wait until the vaccine has been proven before allowing his children to have the shots?

(oooo - good question alittlebitfat)

Don't forget my question Justine!!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:36:57

Do you have any social scientists working on the inevitable social and cultural impacts of pandemics? I can think of a coupla good eggs round here who might help you out with the human response to risk, panic and media furore?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:38:07

And mine, and mine. We need to know on what basis the govt (presumably DCSF and DoH together) will be considering school and childcare closures...

paisleyleaf Wed 22-Jul-09 14:38:41

Not so much a question, just something that I'd quite like looking into:
Gum disease. I have gum disease and it seems my only options of getting treatment are going to cost several hundred pounds (I keep putting it off until I'm flush).
I can go to London to have NHS treatment, which isn't free, and is 70 odd miles away so I'm also looking at time off work, fares, childminding etc for several visits. Or, private treatment locally, again hundreds of pounds.
It's not a merely cosmetic issue as it's linked to heart problems.
So it does seem unfair that treatment isn't more accessible/affordable.

snice Wed 22-Jul-09 14:39:09

Is he hiding in the toilets?

This bit in Vulpusina's question seems really important to me:
If they do close schools, then 'Could you clarify if this is indeed a potential decision, what protections will be in place to protect working parents' employment rights?'

Thanks smile

I have another one.
Should schools tell parents of children who fall in the category of 'vulnerable to flu' when there are confirmed or probable cases in the school?

champagnesupernova Wed 22-Jul-09 14:39:37

Hello Mr Burnham
What do we say to our children who are worried sick [pun] by the scaremongering (or is it?) in the media?
What is the best way to reassure them?

Dumbledoresgirl Wed 22-Jul-09 14:39:51

Hello Andy. I would like to ask 2 questions.

The first is about the swine flu vaccine. I have read concerns that when it comes out it will have been rushed through and not properly tested. But isn't that the case for the seasonal flu vaccine which so many people (my dh and ds2 included) have every year? In other words, can you reassure us that the flu vaccine will be as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine?

Secondly, what could be done to get our GP services back to how they used to be, in particular, being able to call the GP out to the house when you have a small child ill and other family members to consider, instead of having to drag them out of their beds and driving them miles to the nearest OOH centre. It used to be possible for GPs to make home visits, no matter how time consuming they were, why not now?

Thanks.

he is Very Busy And Important wink

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 14:40:35

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be here and its very good for me to communicate in a direct way with parents. As a parent myself of three children I can understand that everybody has questions and concerns but the first thing to say that this is proving to be a mild virus in the vast majority of cases. As a family we have made no changes to a weekly routine and while as parents we all need to take precautions its very much business as usual in the Burnham household (utter chaos).

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 14:41:39

and mine too please! What I really want out of him is a commitment to give FULL answers within a week to all of our questions (which lets face it, are not gonna fit in an hour)

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:41:51

Bless. S'alright mate we love you already. Except for the Everton bit, obv. grin

clearly Kathy Hopefully these questions are ones that will also be answered in a more public arena too as if we have questions then the general population will have similar questions and issues.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:42:45

Waitrose, Andy. Waitrose know how to do a MN webchat.

If you won't can't answer now, DO get back to us, otherwise we will never forgive you.

If he gives us proper answers to all the statistical questions I will be very impressed. Might even vote Labour next time wink

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:43:17

<drums fingers on desk>

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 14:43:33

hi andy could you please tell us how many pregnant women who have had swine and made good recovery and if people with underlying conditions are having this virus and being ok as there is no stories at all on people with health problems beating it and this scares me with a child with underlying health problems

thank you

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:43:35

.....and...

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 14:44:08

Maybe he's legged it...?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:44:25

Does he have to get approval from the spin doctors first?

....and don't do a David Cameron and just go on about which bands you like, ok? smile

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 14:45:33

Andy, I would also urge you to try and persuade the media to report SF in a more responsible, less scaremongering way to limit the pandemic pandemonium that's going on.

His people are Googling for him right now.
(Trouble is we have already Googled.... and not found answers to what we want to know.)

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:45:45

And deffo don't pat us on the heads about our excessive worry and panic. Some of us are Very Well Informed.

CMOTdibbler Wed 22-Jul-09 14:45:46

When Alan Johnston came to visit us, he promised that there would be a review of miscarriage and pregnancy loss services, having heard the heartbreaking stories here of how women were mistreated by the NHS (I'm sure Carrie and Justine will be glad to link you to the Miscarriage code of practice threads).

I know you are a bit busy at the moment smile but could you let us know the status of this ?

lou031205 Wed 22-Jul-09 14:45:51

Perhaps Carrie & Justine are talking him down from a state of panic smile

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 14:46:17

That was something of an excuse to get the phrase pandemic pandemonium into a post grin

studentmummy Wed 22-Jul-09 14:46:43

Hello and welcome Mr Burnham - Can you tell me why ‘under threes’ do not make it onto Professor Salisbury’s priority list for the vaccination program in the autumn. I completely fail to comprehend the reason for this given that ‘under-fives’ are the highest risk group in terms of being the most affected category, possessing highest proportional number of hospitalisations and highest projected mortality rates? According to Salisbury’s priority list, ‘under threes’ come at the very end of the queue together with the rest of the population instead of amongst other children (three and over) who are somewhat near the top of the list. Is there an explanation for this? If so it might need disseminating to the parental population to help us make informed choices.

And another from me
At the moment (spurred on by alittlebitfat) - what is our critical care capacity at the moment? (we are warned by the press each winter that it is tested to capacity)

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 14:47:03

Lets start with pregnancy. It goes without saying that people should take extra precautions because of the extra risk of complication and infections. The best thing that people can do is read the Chief Medical Officer's advice. I would want to say to people that I don't want to give advice, its not the job of a politican to do that. We are adopting a policy of being as open as we can about information and facts and figures. Experts tell me that there is no evidence that this strain can cross the placenta. While we don't collect precise figures on cases amongst pregnancy women, we do know that many pregnant woman have had the virus and are now fine.

Hello Andy,

Why is the waiting list in Hertfordshire for a Communication Disorder Aseessment Clinic appointment over a year long months long for a 2year old with autism, when all evidence shows that early intervention is key?

Do you think that, given the length of the waiting list, that it is acceptable for autism services should be withheld 'pending' diagnosis?

And finally, has the NHS used the Early Years National Curriculum to pass over therapy they traditionally provided to the Education budgets?

Thank you.

'And deffo don't pat us on the heads about our excessive worry and panic. Some of us are Very Well Informed. ' from Vulpus.

I fully agree. 'There, there' messages are actually what tend to get people more worried. Hard, practical facts and how we can help individually is what is needed.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:48:48

School closures, autumn: under what circs?

On whose evidence/advice please?

With what consequences? And mitigation/protection for working parents?

"While we don't collect precise figures on cases amongst pregnancy women"

Why ever not? You really should - how else can we make rational decisions about how big the risk is?

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 14:49:27

With regard to breast feeding and Swine Flu, the department's advice is that women who are breastfeeding should continue while receiving antibiotic treatment. If a mother is ill she should continue breastfeeding and increase feeding frequency. If she becomes too ill to feed then expressing milk may still be possible. In short, carry on but it is important to keep fluid intake up.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 14:49:37

Andy

Can I call you that? smile

I do have some serious questions but first I have to tell you you are the hottest health minister we have ever had. grin

Now, serious stuff.

Mental Health Services could do with more money.

Social services could do with more people like me who have been through the care system but have been rejected for voluntary work as I don't have a degree.

IMO.

Thank you.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:50:22

Anti-biotic?!!

Anti-viral surely?

God help us all...

So it is the Chief Medical officer we should be taking advice from then? We really need a strong leader type figure to get us through this smoothly, not a myriad of different agencies each with their own agenda.

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:51:28

Mr Burnham....critical care beds? We simply wont have enough this winter ( we dont during a normal winter) what are your plans?

You know, I suspect if you did collect figures on cases among pregnant women, most people would be very reassured by them. That could go a lot further towards stopping people panicking than just saying vaguely 'Most pregnant women are fine'.

CathKidston Wed 22-Jul-09 14:51:38

Hi Andy (can I call you Andy?)

I am trying to plan the rest of my family and wondering if I should actively be avoiding getting pregnant? And if so, for how long?

Do we know how long this pandemic is likely to last?

I know you're not qualified to give medical advice but I would be interested to hear your views.

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 14:52:16

Mr Burnham, can you confirm that your staff will provide FULL answers to all the questions being asked on this forum, to be published on Mumsnet by next Wednesday?

People want proper information, not platitudes like " I would want to say to people that I don't want to give advice, its not the job of a politican to do that."

Thank you.

HyacinthsDaughterinlaw Wed 22-Jul-09 14:53:17

Agree with Vulpis - Thought this was viral hence the issue. More rubbish!

Repeating alittlebitfat's question because it is such a fundemental issue.

'Mr Burnham....critical care beds? We simply wont have enough this winter ( we dont during a normal winter) what are your plans? '

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 14:53:54

what about the people that are getting the virus with underlying medical conditions is there any actually being ok?

RawChocolate Wed 22-Jul-09 14:54:07

What measures have been put in place to ensure the vaccine against H1N1 is safe? Also when will it be introduced and which groups will get it first?

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:54:43

I dont know about the rest of you...but this aint going too well so far.....

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 14:55:28

yes my son is due to have open heart surgery in the autum now im gussing here there wont be available beds in the itu for this so what happens then

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 14:55:30

<off to get a cup of tea>

Can someone remind him about the school/childcare closures question please?

PLEASE can you ensure more information about sufferers with underlying health conditions is put out there to help reassure & inform people like KellySS who have children with health conditions?
It can't be very reassuring to be constantly told 'Oh, everyone without pre-existing health conditions will be fine' if the child you love more than anything in the world has such a condition.

megcleary Wed 22-Jul-09 14:57:42

I have read thet it would be best NOT to close schools in september and allow children to get immunity before the the winter version of a flu appears, do you have any comment on this?

herbietea Wed 22-Jul-09 14:57:42

When is the postcode lottery with regards to getting the right medication, going to end?

My DH is in the RAF. He is posted to another unit in 2 weeks. Fortunately I can stay here and he commute, but if I couldn't I would be unable to get the medication that I take now for severe pain.

How can this be fair?

Also, why are those of us in England still having to pay for prescriptions when the rest of the UK don't?

Also, is it only English women's cervixs that show changes between 20-25? It must be as Scotland and Wales pay for the smears to be done during this time.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 14:58:26

Also how much testing will you be doing on the new vaccine or are we meant to trust that it will be OK.

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 14:58:36

I bet Nick Clegg would have answered me

louii Wed 22-Jul-09 14:58:37

This has to be one of the worst webchats ever.

GIvePeasAChance Wed 22-Jul-09 14:58:56

2 posts in 20 minutes - is that it??

My father died of pancreatic cancer last Friday. The survival rates of pancreatic cancer have not changed in the last 40 years. Yet, you make big announcements that cancer survival rates are better than ever now. That is misleading. Survival rates are better in areas where the drug companies do the research and where they can make money. 7000 people die of pancreatic cancer a year. And there is SO little tiny amounts of money being put into it. Why is this?

yappybluedog Wed 22-Jul-09 14:59:25

grin alittlebitfat

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 14:59:25

Good questions Herbie.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 14:59:44

This is all very strange.

It is quite fast moving though.

You okay, Andy? Not passed out with the shock of all the questions? smile

Dumbledoresgirl Wed 22-Jul-09 15:00:04

In future, could MNHQ check out the typing skills of their prospective chatees...

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:00:07

On the subject of underlining health issues, I know that people don't like this particular phrase and find it too vague. In general it does mean, it relates to a serious condition such as HIV or leukemia where the immune system is supressed or it can mean that somebody is on chemotherapy for cancer treatment. It has been used because we don't want to give intrusive personal information on every person. I am hoping that we will soon be in a position to give a breakdown of what illnesses have been underlined in all of the fatalities to date.

In the sad cases of fatalities the underlining conditions have often been very severe. There are many people with mild underlining conditions who have made a full recovery. People must not worry unnecessarily but if your child for instance has asthma and you think they have Swine Flu it is a good idea to get antivirals early.

louii Wed 22-Jul-09 15:00:13

Nicola Sturgeon is a much better Minister for Health, at least she is able to answer basic questions, perhaps Mumsnet should have invited her on instead.

saladodger Wed 22-Jul-09 15:00:26

Can't someone else do the typing for him?
< picturing one finger typing from Mr Burnham while the spin doctors argue over his shoulder>

Perhaps it would have been more sensible to take questions in advance. Then you would have had time to prepare for this.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 15:00:38

When I was younger I started having smears when I was 20, as sadly found in the case of Jade Goody, we do need to have a system in place that would ensure that womens health and concerns are being taken seriously and allow access to important testing which does save lives.

GIvePeasAChance Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:02

Anyone would think he has made a half arsed attempt to look interested?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:19

Sorry folks about the speed issues - promise he's trying but some of this is complicated and he doesn't want to say the wrong thing and cause panic (nb the antibiotic thing was a typo by Andy's typist before you get too worried)

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:23

OK, that's 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back...sorry MN....this is a bit rubbish. Technical problems?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:41

What about adults with asthma?

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:53

But in one case tonsilitis was quoted as the underlying health issue which is very treatable.

Shellseeker Wed 22-Jul-09 15:01:58

I wonder if Mrs Burnham is on MN? Maybe she should update him on how MN works as he clearly hasn't got the hang of posting messages!

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:03

How will you insure that those who are at most risk will get the Vaccine? Will it be the case that you will have to prove hom asthmatic you are for example, or will it be a blanket vaccination for everyone that has a condition that puts them in the 'at risk' category?

yappybluedog Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:04

perhaps he's not feeling well

<don't get to close, Justine>

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:21

"It has been used because we don't want to give intrusive personal information on every person." hmm

Thank you Andy.
Look forward to the more detailed information when it is made public.

Heidi28 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:33

The current NHS recommendation for women suffering with swine flu is to be prescribed Relenza rather than Tamiflu to ease symptoms - but the drug has not been studied in pregnant humans (only animals where it caused skeletal defects when given in large doses), so it is not known if it is safe for use during pregnancy.

The guidance and advice given to pregnant women (I'm at 34 weeks) has been so conflicting and confusing. Where can we get access to some reliable, up-to-date information and have our individual questions answered?

I'd like an answer to blondiemix's question: "Can you confirm that your staff will provide FULL answers to all the questions being asked on this forum, to be published on Mumsnet by next Wednesday?"

Dumbledoresgirl Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:34

he has a typist? sack her (or him) I can type faster than this!

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:02:42

thank you kathy it seems the news say that ppl with underlying health conditions are the 1s that are dying so don't panic well sorry but it makes u panic more when 1 of your kids already suffer with health and to have this hanging over the country maybe what is being wrote needs to changed its like thoses with health probs dont matter sori to waffle

The US cdc have quite a good breakdown of which underlying health conditions are contributing to pan flu deaths (and break it down by percentage). It is pretty interesting reading.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:03:07

I do hope MNHQ will fill us all in on how many people are in the room debating what Andy is allowed to say? grin

It must be tough being a politician. Your every word being dissected by know-it-all Internet Sprites. And the Daily Mail.

But do keep up, a bit...

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 15:03:10

And re advance questions, as you can imagine the Minister is quite busy right now so he kindly agreed to squeeze us into a tight schedule at the last minute. Better we have him now and without advance questions than not at all, no? We may not cover all the ground but we'll cover some.

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:03:31

There are no plans for widespread school closures. There were closures in the early phase but that was when all our efforts were focused on containing spread so that we could buy time to learn more about the virus. Again, it is important to keep it in perspective and adopt a business as usual approach. School closures may be considered on a local basis but that would be a matter for the head teacher and the chair of governors. Obviously, we will keep things under review and have to see how the virus develops in the Autumn but there are no widespread closure plans under discussion at the moment.

GIvePeasAChance Wed 22-Jul-09 15:03:33

PR disaster

I'm off

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 15:03:49

Sorry Justine it is not complicated to state how many of the 30 people who have died have had underlying health issues as he was asked on Monday morning and said that he would be answering in his statement in the afternoon.

Agree should have been pre set questions or had a few people to do this.

Dumbledoresgirl Wed 22-Jul-09 15:04:04

Only if some ground is actually covered Justine....

OK got to go. Some of us still have children at school....

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:04:59

Are there plans to immunise all 0-5 yr olds against SF?

furrycat Wed 22-Jul-09 15:05:00

Shame the health secretary can't spell leukaemia

I'm afraid I have to go and do the school run (pity this is over school run time as there are so many interesting areas around this topic to discuss)
I look forward to reading your answers. Thank you for coming on to MN today.

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 15:05:03

Mr Burnham, you have posted 3 times in the last half hour. There is no way you are going to be able to answer all our questions in the remaining time. Therefore please can you confirm that your office will be providing FULL answers to all questions raised here, to be published on Mumsnet, by next Wednesday?

It's a simple request - which I have now made three times.

ellielou02 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:05:33

Hi Andy will you providing answers to the issues raised here at a later date as some other people have asked, and I am quite keen to know the answers to alot of the questions. There are understandably alot of questions from worried people!

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 15:05:37

<<grammerpolice faints at use of sori in a post to an MP>>

studentmummy Wed 22-Jul-09 15:05:57

Hello again Mr Burnham - To repeat hospital beds question with a twist - will we have enough for all the anticipated child swine flu sufferers who need hospitalisation over the course of this pandemic (estimated up to 20,000 worst case scenario) when number of paediatric beds available is somewhere between three and four hundred?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:05

OK, thanks. So the notion is rumour and conjecture at the moment...

I do very much appreciate your being here to answer some of these questions BTW. It must be a very busy time.

We would give anyone a ribbing, but the fast typers have a slight advantage.

And IMHO, Alan Johnson had the slight edge as fit Health Secretaries go grin. And dictating/typing speed.

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:19

Newspapers reports on the weekend about delaying a family were very unhelpful and I think brought a lot of unnecessary confusion. This has not been part of our advice. There was earlier advice relating to H5N1 (Bird Flu) but that would have been most likely a more serious virus. As we keep saying this virus is mild in the vast majority of cases but undoubtly very unpleasant for some.

anastaisia Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:30

Hi

I am concerned about a few aspects of the just released NICE guidence on when to suspect maltreatment or neglect of children.

As already mentioned there are many people who will be worried that they will be put under pressure by the section about engaging with child health and immunisation services.

I am equally concerned by the entry about school attendence as it refers to home education unless 'formally approved' as a flag. Were the people who wrote the guidence aware that currently there is no such thing as 'formally approved home education', although LAs can and do make enquiries and take action if children are not being educated suitably it is not within their remit, nor are there formal processes for approval of education. Perhaps they have inside information on the result of the current home education consultation, which would also be concerning as public consultation does not end until October and the potential legislation will not be debated until then. Perhaps this is something that needs to be looked into further? Would that be something you could do as it is included in health guidence?

Thank you

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:33

And will the vaccine that you want our children to have be fully tested and licensed?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:34

The child who died with tonsillitis went into septic shock according to the news.

I can't see any MP being able to answer questions on a chat to be honest as they are always going to be many questions without answers immediately available.

Having a typist just makes things take twice as long.

(Justine, I'm sure that he has advisors that could have pre-answered a lot of these questions but I'm very glad that he has come on. Thank you.)

RawChocolate Wed 22-Jul-09 15:06:38

The government aims for people with possible cancer to be seen by a specialist within two weeks. But what is being done to reduce the time taken for investigations to be completed and cancer treatment started? Surely reducing the time from diagnosis to treatment will improve cancer survival rates.

Noonki Wed 22-Jul-09 15:08:53

My questions:

1. why don't you get Sister's back on wards. When I was a hospital cleaner, the sister would inspect my work and make me do anything again that she wasnt impressed with.

(I was in hope hospital a year a go and it was shocking)

2. We need cheaper denists, my mum. a pensioner had to pay £430 for a crown yesterday. I know people who don't ever go now.

3. Put out adverts about when to call an ambulance. My DH is a paramedic and they get so many timewasters. Make it so that they are able to tell people to get a taxi , who don't need emergency without fear of losing their jobs if they get sued. Last night he someone with ear ache and some one who had a back ache (that they had for 2 days)

4. Do more for mental health services. People need counselling and support more often than they need drugs. And those that do need drugs need to be much more closely monitored to ensure that levels are right and that they can get off them. Make use of alternatives such as mediation (speak to the Mindfulness research centre attached to Warneford hospital and Oxford university...they are getting amazing clinical results on the effectiveness of mediation on depression, Mediation is free, train someone how to do it and they have a skill for life)

5. Same with insomnia - no less drugs more relaxation programmes (my fab GP sent me on a course 15 years ago and I still use the techniques now, never needed meds though have lots of sleep problems) - cheap long term innovative solution.

thank you for reading

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:09:04

also why u are here what about the amount of research into congentital heart defects its the most common killer in kids under 1 but there is no awareness????

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:09:37

Would you honestly give your own children the Sf vaccine when it becomes available?

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 15:10:41

I have to agree with the smear tests being reduced back to 20. I was discovered to have CIN 3 level cells at the age of 24. had i left it a few more months I would have had CIN 4, which would have been cancer. My cells returned within a year. I am lucky i got tested early before this new ridiculous change in law. Why are women under 25 being denied this procedure when this country openly admits that we have a teenage pregnancy and early sexual activity 'problem' and yet people who are sexually active are being denied a simple test to check that they do not havea disease that is transmitted sexually until they are mid-20's?

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:10:44

how safe is the vaccine?

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 15:11:42

Ok, last try....Critical care beds for this winter...have you any plans for increasing capacity?

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:11:56

On critical care beds its important to say that the NHS is wonderfully resilient and has long experience of dealing with the extra pressure that comes with any flu season or outbreak of flu. In the winter of 1999/2000 there were very high levels of seasonal flu, much above current levels that we are seeing and as always, the NHS rose to the challenge and sufficient capacity were available. People should take comfort from the fact that our health care system is nationally organised and that capacity can be planned centrally to meet demand. On paediatric intensive care I would want people to be reassured that there are contingency plans in place in all English regions to meet increased levels of demands. We issued planning guidance to the NHS last week with worse case scenarios. Whilst this produced some awkward headlines for us, we think it was the right thing to do, so that the NHS was clear about the extra pressure it could face in the most extreme scenario.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 15:12:04

Another person has died of SF.

31 now.

sad

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:12:38

I saw this Fab

Bramshott Wed 22-Jul-09 15:12:44

Yes, Vaccine questions are important - who will it be recommended for (eg. under 5s), and will it have been fully tested?!?

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:13:16

yup dont say if they had any problems though

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 15:13:35

will my 2 year old be able to get the vacinne and how do we know it won't affect unborn children? Didn't they say that about thalidomide?

studentmummy Wed 22-Jul-09 15:16:25

Mr Burnham - The underlying causes theme seems to be one of the most dominant discussion threads here. If these details were released it would be helpful on a number of levels.
One - to help individuals assess their own relative degree of risk with regard to swine flu and promptness of treatment.
Two - it would help dispel rumours that the underlying causes is all a government cover up story to avert panic.
There seems to be real concern that almost anyone could be made retrospectively to fit into an underlying causes scenario and I am not altogether convinced by the tonsillitis story by the way!!

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:16:28

With regards to vaccines, yes I would give it to my children but I would want to be sure that it had been properly tested so, you can all take heart that I won't be taking any risks there. On the timing we have contracts in place to see the first doses arrive at the end of next month and then build up significantly over the autumn. 60 million doses are contracted to arrive in 2009. Enough to vaccinate half of the population. Overall we have an order placed for 130 million does (people may need two doses). Because we had advanced purchased agreements, we are at the front of the queue for vaccines. I will say more on vaccines in a minute.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:16:42

I am unsure whether to give my 2 yr old the SF vaccine,can you honestly say you would give it to your own children & is it 100% safe?

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:17:01

hmm

alittlebitfat Wed 22-Jul-09 15:17:40

Thanyou for answering, although I must disagree. We get by..just. On Millenium eve I travelled with a seriously ill patient from hertfordshire to derbyshire..this was the last ITU bed in England at that time. We will not get by this winter with current numbers.

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:17:56

So are you sure it will be properly tested?

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:18:12

if people already had the virus what the point in gettin vaccine?

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:18:24

Thankyou X posted there, so who decides who gets the vacinne & who doesnt get it?

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:18:54

What do you expect the vaccine uptake to be?

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:20:04

On prioritisation for vaccine, I will meet my counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in Cardiff tomorrow and we will discuss this very issue. Our scientific advisors have given us advice about the priority higher risk groups and we will take a decision on whether to take this advice soon. Of course, as soon as we do we will make that information public. A lot depends on the speed of delivery and the licensing process. We also need to consider when we should vaccinate health and social care staff, alongside the priority risk groups.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:22:01

Would it not be a good idea to immunise the workforce? Surely if this group of people get ill then services will suffer?

Will be called in alphabetical order?

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:23:02

Of course, the vaccine has to be properly tested. The licensing process will be carried out by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency. It will get underway as soon as possible. It is important to remember that there is long experience of providing safe flu vaccines. Every year, the seasonal flu virus can mutate a little and require a new vaccine, so we are well used to dealing to situations of this kind.

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 15:23:03

Please answer the other questions on autism, smear tests etc. This chat seems to not be moving forward and ends shortly.

As asked 3 times before - can someone please ensure that all these questions are answered by next week?

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 15:23:36

C4 news reported earlier that they've only just started the testing process and it takes 7 months! hmm so by my reckoning that takes us to early next year. Once testing has finished the vaccine still needs to be licenced for use here.

*Justine MNHQ* pleae can you try and get a promise out of Mr Burnham that his office will answer all of our questions. Also are there any plans to get the shadow health secretaries from the Lib Dems and Tories in, so they can tell us what they'd be doing?

My guess is that a lot of people were turned off politics by the expenses scandal - but are now suddenly very interested in the information coming out of govt depts re health and schools because SF will affect all of us. This is a chance for politicians to try regain the respect of the electorate.

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 15:23:46

<<dashes off to change name to A.Abercrombie or some such like>>

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:24:20

Stigaloid, I thought the purpose of this webchat was specifically Swine Flu issues? But even if it isn't, I don't think he could possibly answer everything on every possible health question we have off the cuff.

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 15:24:37

<<Runs off to become aaron aaronson>>

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 15:25:15

I agree that I think the priority at the moment should be responding to our SF questions.

snottymcgrotty Wed 22-Jul-09 15:25:28

As a paramedic in city centre Manchester (who would be more than pleased to take you observing with us for a shift or two, to see the hassle we get, the number of SF cases, those who could have more appropriate care pathways etc..), we are run off our feet with SF cases at the moment. I'm sure it won't be long before we start dropping like flies with it ourselves, any chance of us getting the vaccine as priority ?

p.s. can't believe you still support Everton ! Did St Aelreds not teach you anything, I blame the teachers (my Dad) wink

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:25:48

Will the vaccinantions be given out before school starts back in Sept?

Stigaloid Wed 22-Jul-09 15:26:01

I thought it was a chat with the Health Minister and only asked as there seemed to be a lull in responses and whilst Swine Flu is important, I believe other posters questions on autism, vacinnes in general, cancer and smear tests are relevant health questions. Apologies if I mis-interpreted the chat.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:26:06

blondie, not being in govt, the others won't know what they're doing. What they promise and what it is actually like managing a real and complex health crisis are entirely different things.

I don't like the fact that he is slow off the mark but I don't think the LibDems/Tories would be able to do anything but moan about what the govt are not doing.

studentmummy Wed 22-Jul-09 15:27:04

Mr Burnham - thanks for answering earlier question on paediatric intensive care beds - I suspect you will just have to nick them from the adult wards in the event of an emergency! You still haven't answered my (and many others) questions on the under threes and vaccinations, however. How come they fall into the highest risk grouping but are not even mentioned under the priority vaccination program?

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 22-Jul-09 15:27:16

No you didn't it says in the opening post questions on swine flu and anything else.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:27:28

rofl at a 'lull' in responses. Yes. It has been somewhat lull-like...

Not having a go at you for asking stig, and I do hope they do cross his desk anyhow (these other questions)

kellyss Wed 22-Jul-09 15:27:39

ah well at least i know being pregnant i have a chance of being ok but regards to my son well i will just have to wait till he gets this vaccine so i can see me keeping him of school till that happenes as we in scotland we are back in few weeks but i will take the consequences of keeping my son safe

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 15:28:08

OK. Off back to do some work now...

Heidi28 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:28:40

Thanks Andy for answering a few of our questions, though to reiterate blondieminx's appeal again: please would your office answer all the questions raised in this forum for publication on Mumsnet next week? Since the chat moved so slowly, it would be very helpful. Thanks again.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:30:12

Thanks Andy for taking time to answer our questions,would it be possible for your Dept to place a post answering all SF questions that werent answered?

Thanks again.

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 15:31:16

Hi Vulpina... I thought it would be good (in the intersts of balanced debate) to see what the other parties would do if they were in government. The issue of how swine flu (and other major health issues such as smear tests, autism, cancer and coronary care) are dealt with is very important to most voters mothers' hearts!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 15:31:21

You've broken the Dept of Health interweb with the weight of all your questions and it's down at the moment, so will be a slight delay.

Normal service will resume asap.

louii Wed 22-Jul-09 15:31:42

Is that it then, went really well i thought hmm

LOL

When it's fixed, would you answer my question please?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 15:34:05

We're back up - apologies - he's promised to stay a while longer.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 15:35:02

And yes they promise to answer as many further questions as they can, if not covered here.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:35:42

Would it be possible for your Dept to answer all SF questions that werent answered on a later post?

Thanks.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:36:14

Thank you.

Flumpity Wed 22-Jul-09 15:36:37

please can you answer the question on under 3s getting the vaccine?

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:36:53

On the media I think the coverage to date has been on the whole has been measured and informative. I was frustrated by the weekend coverage because this department has not changed its advice, but I appreciate that we need to work hard to provide as quick and clear answers as we can, if there is any sense of confusion. We have to recognise that there are other non government voices out there commenting and that is right and proper in a free country but I hope it won't always lead to headlines about confusion as that just increases anxiety. It is a fact that undbalanced coverage can put extra pressure on NHS staff by people making unnecessary visits to GPs or NHS Direct. I hope that the good media coverage so far will continue through the quieter summer months.

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 15:36:53

Politician not answering the questions non-shocka... do bear that performance in mind when it's election time ladies hmm, I for one am not impressed....

CathKidston Wed 22-Jul-09 15:36:59

OH well done MNHQ for getting us answers smile

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:39:07

We do not know where Channel 4 could have got their information from. It was news to us and sounds inaccurate. I have spoken to the manufacturers and I am lead to believe that it will not take anything like that long.

Jenski Wed 22-Jul-09 15:39:33

You'd think when he finally says something it might be useful and actually answer at least one question! angry

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:39:53

How will we be called for immunisation? Will it be alphabetically?

Flumpity Wed 22-Jul-09 15:39:56

another SF question - but you can answer it later if you don't want to now (!). the NHS symptom checker told me i had swine flu, even though i don't have a high temperature. Can you have SF without a high temp? it struck me as unlikely despite having all the other symptoms. but it may explain all the panic when the symptom checker is diagnosing every normal cold as swine flu... Or can you in fact get SF without a temp?!

blondieminx Wed 22-Jul-09 15:40:25

Aha great stuff, thanks for confirming Justine smile

BrightShinySun Wed 22-Jul-09 15:41:33

Hi, sorry am I am late to this discussion. Just two simple questions really..
1. Are the under 5's (as they seem to be hit the hardest when they do contract SF) going to be priority when the vacination does arrive?
2. Bearing in mind it does not seem to be affecting the elderly as hard as the young why is there still talk of them being priority (no offence to the elderly of course) would it not make more sense to prioritise the 15-50(ish) yr olds that make up most of the country workforce and basically keep the country moving?
Thanks

Flumpity The symptom checker told me to dial 999 when I had a cold hmm

Have to say I agree re non-government voices commenting. I wouldn't like it if RCM etc were prevented from giving their view, even if what they are saying is a bit dodgy.

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:44:04

BrightShinySun - i asked that earlier,i also believe the work force of the Uk should be a prority,if they fall ill & cannot work then the whole country will suffer.

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:44:09

My best advice for people going on holiday in Europe is to get an European Health Insurance Card for each member of the family. If you are travelling further afield you may want to consult the Foreign Office website but it is important to say that we do not plan to issue Tamiflu on a speculative basis. It is for people with symptoms.

On general availability ministers had to take a decision a couple of weeks ago about whether it should be restricted to at risk groups or made available to everyone with symptoms. We decided that it should be offered to everyone and we could take this cautious approach because we have built up such a large stockpile over recent years. I cannot stress enough that there is enough for everybody.

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:45:18

I am not a GP but it is nearly always the case that people who have Swine Flu have a temperature of 38 or more.

Jenski Wed 22-Jul-09 15:45:42

When will MPs get their vaccines?

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:45:51

But who will get it first?

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:46:26

The vaccine that is - not SF blush

BrightShinySun Wed 22-Jul-09 15:47:16

Sorry PM73 haven't read it all and was just trying to get my question in!!

AndyBurnham Wed 22-Jul-09 15:47:22

I am sorry but I have to sign off now. I know I haven't answered many questions particularly those not about Swine Flu but will come back soon to do another webchat and my team are going to try and answer as many as we can in the next week. Enjoy the summer and enjoy your holidays. Thanks for having me.

Thanks for coming, have a good holiday (if you are allowed one). smile

PM73 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:48:28

Thankyou for your time.

BrightShinySun - i wasnt being funny with you,just agreeing with you totally grin

Frasersmum123 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:49:13

Thanks for coming

norwood Wed 22-Jul-09 15:50:30

I accept that the UK government have enough Tamiflu for everyone but is that the case everywhere in Europe? If we fall ill with it while we are abroad is it guaranteed that we will be prescribed it? Or is it more prudent to take some with you?

BrightShinySun Wed 22-Jul-09 15:50:41

PM73 Thats ok, I didn't think you were be. Perhaps if we ask enough times we might get an answer one day!! grin

CathKidston Wed 22-Jul-09 15:51:00

Yes thanks Andy

thegrammerpolice Wed 22-Jul-09 15:51:48

Thanks for coming. I'd love to say we aren't always this scary but I think we are grin

Heidi28 Wed 22-Jul-09 15:51:51

Thanks for confirming Justine.
And thanks Andy for committing to answer more of these questions in the coming week. We do appreciate your time.

Thank you for coming Andy and I look forward to getting some answers to my questions.

Sorry we can be a bit crazy, but no worse than the PM question-time surely, and perhaps, just perhaps........ grin

mosschops30 Wed 22-Jul-09 16:02:57

Does anyone else think these webchats are a complete waste of time???? hmm

MollieO Wed 22-Jul-09 16:03:00

So did he actually answer questions people asked or just say the points he wanted to? Or am I just an old cynic. I've skimmed the thread and read his 'answers' all of which read like statements.

I assume the rest of his 'answers' will be posted here shortly.

herbietea Wed 22-Jul-09 16:07:32

Me mosschops.smile

It was very much a politician's webchat.
On the one hand it's great the MN has the clout to attract the really top people (thank you MN Towers) but OTOH maybe what we actually need are people who are less important but know more.
Eg not even the Chief Medical Officer but someone intelligent from his office?!

Of course, if Andy Burnham does what he ought to and passes these questions on to people who do know the answers then that will be brilliant.

However I do still think these are valuable in getting our concerns before the politians even if from our perspective there weren't many immediate answers.

sarah293 Wed 22-Jul-09 16:09:32

So didn't answer my questions about disabled children having to have pressure sores before they can get a new wheelchair. guess its ok with the govt then.
This swine flu malarkey is taking everyone's minds off the long term problems.

mosschops30 Wed 22-Jul-09 16:12:30

Why dont they sllow every mnetter one question each, and then they can be chosen at random to be answered by the webchatter.

I hate all this, the same person posts over and over again, same question over and over again and even if it gets answered, they then say 'yes but what about xxxxx' its tiresome.

MNHQ you need to sort this out, I didnt even bother to post in this madness today

mosschops30 Wed 22-Jul-09 16:12:57

allow

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 22-Jul-09 16:13:22

I would so a webchat and I would answer all your questions.

I would do it for free too.

grin

Noonki Wed 22-Jul-09 16:19:38

I agree riven.

HyacinthsDaughterinlaw Wed 22-Jul-09 16:30:21

Riven, My mother in law ..wink? Helps with Riding for the disabled and she saw this issue with one of the children so she wrote to the David and Victoria Beckham foundation and Victoria's mother who runs the foundation called and asked some questions re the requirement and once the request had been validated the Beckhams funded the new chair. They don't make a splash of this in the media ( which is probably to their detriment and their credit) but they were very responsive. Agree the government should do something but in the meantime this might help

sarah293 Wed 22-Jul-09 16:35:10

well its not just dd. She did get an assessment for a new chair back in June and we're just waiting as it takes 12 weeks to order one then 8 weeks to get an appointment to fit it.
Its most wheelchair services. they are all shite and all breach Human Rights Laws.

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 22-Jul-09 20:24:42

Thanks Andy - I look forward to reading the rest of the responses.

slyandgobbo Wed 22-Jul-09 21:11:43

Is it too late to ask for Andy to send in a photo of himself in some speedos?

SammyK Wed 22-Jul-09 21:52:03

hmm Just read full thread and am quite disappointed. hmm

I agree it seems to me that AndyBurnham's posts are statements rather than answers to posters individual questions. I do hope that we get further answers, I am particularly interested in StarlightM's questions at the beginning of the thread.

I think the live web chats are great when you get a person on who types with more than one finger (or has someone type for them quickly even), and keeps up with conversation.

Maybe an idea would be to not allow posts on these threads until webchat time? Would save the person coming on to so many posts and questions but beginning a conversation once they are 'here' and going from there.

Jux Wed 22-Jul-09 22:05:23

He had someone typing for him though. Perhaps he should have chosen a typist for the job eh? wink

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 22-Jul-09 22:15:55

Oi, MrsBurnham. We know you're lurking. Could you pass on all the other questions please? grin

SammyK Wed 22-Jul-09 22:16:53

Alan Johnson had someone typing for him. It didn't stop him giving individual responses to peoples questions straight off the cuff rather than statement style posts.

Am unimpressed.

It's surprising anyone dares come on here for a live web chat really isn't it!? grin

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 23:16:08

He did answer individual questions, honest - he just didn't preface them all with the individuals' names as AJ and others have done - that was partly because of some overlap of questions and partly because of lack of preparation time for this chat (it was v last minute) plus slow speed of typist. I think he genuinely wanted to cover as much ground as he could (and in the end did answer most of our swine flu questions) but I think as you know the subject of swine flu is super-duper sensitive and one wrong move would be pounced on, so he and his medical person were being cautious. I don't think he wanted to be evasive but it did mean he was a a bit slower than some.

He also confirmed that his wife's been nagging him to come on MN for ages - so thanks for that Mrs B!

His team are promising more answers next week.

slyandgobbo Wed 22-Jul-09 23:21:04

What about the picture? In the speedos? they don't have to be actual speedos. They could be M & S speedo-alikes.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Jul-09 23:23:04

For goodness sake woman - control yourself - his wife's a Mumsnetter! (Unless you're his wife?)

Well of course some of the questions (mine for instance) were wanting statistics which it turns out aren't available - am a bit shocked they're not collecting statistics on how many pregnant women with swine flu miscarry, but if they don't exist it's not his fault he couldn't give them.

slyandgobbo Wed 22-Jul-09 23:26:12

Pah, I thought the picture in the speedos would put me off.
<looks around anxiously for Mrs Burnham>
Could we have a Daniel Craig webchat since you're here Justine? Has he not written a children's book or produced his own line of nappies we could pretend to talk about?

slyandgobbo Wed 22-Jul-09 23:39:30

It was a joke, really, about Andy B. Although am sure he's v nice and attractive, Mrs B.
<digs hole deeper and goes to bed>

BeccyCat Wed 22-Jul-09 23:52:23

I've been watching Andy Burnham on BBC Breakfast and GMTV over the last couple of days. His posts were very much (to the sentence) the same as he has been saying on television and I thought that little account was given of the questions that were asked here.

I really feel that it was considered by Andy Burnham's people that he should come on here and calm down the hysterical Mumsnet mothers.

I don't think this was thought through, at all.

I also feel that he is really struggling in his job. Ben Shepherd managed to make him look utterly panicked on Monday. I am very uncomfortable with a Health Secretary whom Ben Shepherd can make nervous, on questions on a current pandemic.

LeninGrad Thu 23-Jul-09 07:12:18

I'm going to swim against the tide here but just wondering what people expected? He's a top minister who isn't going to come on here being all quick-fire only to see his comments taken out of context in the papers the next day.

For those who follow MN on Twitter, the quotes extracted there, and the summary now linked to on the main page, are very good I think.

They just don't have all the info, as I suspected, but I was pleased to see they are going to do more to clarify risks around other health conditions and vaccines.

I thought we got responses to most of the SF stuff tbh. I know it must have been disappointing to not go into the many other areas of health concerns raised but if we want him and people like him back, don't you think we have to be a teeny bit less hostile critical?

<dons flame proof jacket, retreats>

<reads through entire thread for the first time>

God, he won't be back then, you'll have scared the hell out of him!

Riven - so sorry he didn't answer your wheelchair question - Mrs B - perhaps you can point it out? No civilised country should view a child's pressure sores as a requirement.

The typist must have been someone off work experience - "underlining health issues"? It's "underlying", for heavens sake...

Agree for some of the questions in advance, it would have been an easy thing for them to have prepared answers.

But I disagree with others about how much we can be told about people's underlying health issues. He was as clear as he could be. Patient confidentiality means you can't just go saying "Mr xxxx has died but he was HIV+"

I can see that HIV can be very sensitive and given it is all about compromising the immune system I am sure it will have accounted for a significant number of the deaths. However surely in most of the other cases the relatives aren't going to mind having info released?

Bramshott Thu 23-Jul-09 09:35:59

Sorry, had to dash before the end of the webchat yesterday.

Just wanted to say that I think it's amazing we had him on at all, given how busy he must be at the moment - thank Justine et al for organising it!

Given that this was presumably a snatched hour out of a manic day, and was meant mainly to respond to fears about swine flu and the conflicting advice, amongst pregnant women and parents of under 5s, I think he did pretty well.

If we haven't scared him off completely (!), maybe he'd like to come back sometime when the current crisis has died down and chat to us about the other questions?!?

Kathy - well I imagine the families are not thinking about the public aspect of this at all. And the hospitals are just following their procedures, which is that you don't release information to the press about people's medical history to protect confidentiality.

Grendle Thu 23-Jul-09 10:25:47

Sorry to have missed the chat and shame none of my questions got answered <shrugs>.

I think the issues of expectation during a webchat are a difficult balance. I agree to a certain extent with Leningrad that there is a limit to what we can expect, as not all questions on any topic can be readily answered and not all chatees are used to the format. However, if you look at the speed of responses and the questions that were answered, most could be predicted in advance (so he should have been thoroughly briefed on the standard responses), so I don't think it's unreasonable to have expected a bit more ground to be covered. Given he had a typist and it was going v slowly, tbh the typos and paricularly incorrect use of words/terms is shocking and gives a poor impression. If he was typing rapidly himself I'm sure we'd all be more forgiving wink.

I do hope that his private secretary will print off the whole thread and put it into his box so he can properly read all the issues raised, including those not about swine flu. Maybe someone should email them a copy of all the unanswered questions so that the officials can get the answers together more easily for us?

Should/do we have guidelines for chatees? e.g. I would suggest:

1. Make sure you read the thread in advance of the chat (or get your advisers to do it) and prepare answers to as many of the questions already sitting there as you can. People will expect answers to these and doing the prep means once the discussion starts it can move faster, reducing people's frustration.

2. During the chat, try to respond to questions using people's usernames as it gives a more personal impression in a fast moving thread.

3. Try not to leave pauses of longer than a few minutes between your posts, as people get impatient (another bonus of having thought up a few answers in advance).

4. Commit to answering the remainder of the questions within a set timeframe after the chat (actually, this one might not apply for some 'fun' chatees, e.g. authors etc, but definitiely for politicians/Govt ministers). Some questions are tough to answer, but in this case any of us could simply write to our MP and get them to ask it, which would lead to a reply from one of the health ministers, which could then be posted on here anyway, so you can't really get out of it.

5. If something really tricky comes up, then offering to follow it up personally through a meeting or whatever goes down really well (see the recent Waitrose chat). It diffuses the issue in the live situation, or can be done shortly afterwards. If you do promise to do something, however, giving a timeframe is helpful and you must do it and report back smile -thinking of the AJ and miscarriage issue here.

I agree it was really good to get him on, and people are brave to take on a MN grilling grin. Thanks to Justine et al for continuing to get interesting victims participants.

Jux Thu 23-Jul-09 13:04:09

There are guidelines which are usually sent in advance. It is up to the chattees whether they bother looking at them, let alone actually following them. There have been cases where the chattee clearly didn't bother and had a very bad time as a result. Naming no names. Mr Burnham, nevertheless, was a very last minute booking and could be cut some slack due to that.

Grendle Thu 23-Jul-09 14:19:04

And I think most of us have ct him some slack smile. Good to hear there are guidelines.

I wonder if interviewers such as john Humphries and Jeremy Paxman cut politicians slack when they make last minute bids for live interviews where every word the politician says will be quotable just as with text on here? Or is it the politician and their officials' job to ensure they are equipped to handle fast-paced questions on topical issues at short notice <ponders> hmm?

Grendle Thu 23-Jul-09 14:19:28

cut

LeninGrad Thu 23-Jul-09 14:26:17

Good point Grendle, maybe my expectations were too low/cynicism too high. On the whole, of course we want politicians engaging at this level. They'll get better at it with practise.

Personally I'd love to see electronic voting and instant polls and interactive and open debate on all sorts. We have the technology.

Grendle - no, they don't. But I think it's a human nature thing to fret more about what you put in writing compared with what you say, even though it's totally irrational in the case of broadcast interviews because what they say will end up being transcribed!

TallulahToo Fri 24-Jul-09 14:51:17

Sorry I missed it and actually feel glad that he came on at all. Maybe just the fact that he did is progress in itself.

But can anyone tell me if he actually answered my question about closing nurseries to avoid cross infection in the under 5's?

I know it was one of the ones on the list but didn't see the answer.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 31-Jul-09 10:32:13

We've had more answers to questions that Andy Burnham didn't get round to in last week's chat, and there are more to follow, hopefully later today.

MORE SWINE FLU QUESTIONS

Grendle: I would like to know what he thinks of the RCOG/RCM guidelines on swine flu and pregnancy. In particular, as access to homebirths can be so variable anyway, will their advice that if services are stretched generally then homebirth services may be cancelled be used as an excuse to deny women the choices they want in birthing? What will be done to ensure this isn't the case?

Also, if services get really stretched due to staff illness, how will they make sure that breastfeeding and other postnatal needs are fully supported? Particularly if as RCOG/RCM suggest women may be encouraged out of hospital faster and not receive postnatal home visits from midwives. Will all hospitals be actively promoting referrals to the voluntary breastfeeding helplines as a backup?

Please could more information about relenza and any flu vaccine and pregnancy be provided in order that pregnant women can make informed decisions about whether or not to take up these options. Simply saying 'this is what we recommend, there's no evidence of harm' isn't really reassuring enough, nor enough info on which to make a judgement. Pregnant women are not sheep.

blondieminx: please could you also outline what continuity planning is being undertaken in hospitals to ensure that this country's already overstretched midwifery service gets support so that midwives are there when we need them when the time comes to deliver our babies? Also please could you confirm whether hospitals will be given guidance to offer reassurance scans to mothers-to-be who have taken Relenza (bearing in mind the lack of data about this drug)?

Response

Thanks Grendle and blondieminx, you both hit on some important issues. I know swine flu is a big concern for expectant parents, which is why we've been working closely with the Royal Colleges to give joined up advice.

On Grendle’s question about Relenza and vaccines, we do want to be as open as possible in the information available. The last thing I want to do is to tell pregnant women 'you must do this, you must do that'. It should be up to the individual to decide – but it needs to be an informed decision, based on an awareness of all the pros and cons.

You can find a lot more information about Relenza on our website (www.dh.gov.uk), and I’d also urge you to speak to your GP or midwife if you have any concerns about taking Relenza.

On the vaccine front, I’m clear that we do need to make sure vaccinations are safe, and we’re working with the licensing authorities to ensure the appropriate checks are carried out.

Turning to the issue of maternity services, I do want to stress that the NHS has been planning for a pandemic for many years, and this includes plans for how maternity services should respond. The guidelines we’ve sent out to the NHS make clear that maternity units should do everything possible to allow women to choose the type of birth they want.

Equally, maternity services will make every effort to ensure Swine Flu does not compromise the quality of care and support that new Mums receive immediately after giving birth.

As I say, there are detailed plans in place to minimise the impact this pandemic has on all kinds of health services. We’re acknowledged as being global leaders in our preparations.

But even so, I’m afraid I can’t guarantee there won’t be local cases where staff illness or short term pressures mean that some women will not have a home birth. What I can guarantee is that we will do everything we can to keep those instances to a minimum – wherever possible, we need the NHS to function as normal during the pandemic.

TallulahToo: Swine flu not only a particular hazard to pregnant mums but also to the under 5's. Why then does the government not advocate closing of school nurseries when a case is found?

Response

TallulahToo, thanks for your question. We originally had a policy of closing schools and nurseries when we were in the ‘containment’ phase of our response to swine flu; that was when we were trying to stop the spread of swine flu for as long as possible so we had time to study the disease and make significant progress towards developing a vaccine. No one could stop the spread indefinitely and, following advice from scientific experts, we reached the conclusion that it wouldn’t be right to close nurseries or schools every time a child or a member of staff fell ill with Swine Flu.

But we have said that nurseries and schools could close if local circumstances required it – for instance, if a number of staff all fell ill with Swine Flu. We’ve also asked nurseries to be particularly hot on cleaning hard surfaces, which can harbour the virus, and isolating children who show symptoms.

At the moment, Swine Flu is proving to be mild for most people, including the under 5s, so we do need to take a proportionate response. However, we are monitoring the situation closely and will make any changes to our position as and when we need to.

thegrammerpolice: I believe that there is vast over-diagnosis of Swine Flu going on in hot spot areas. Children who have the slightest temperature and any two other symptoms are diagnosed with it and handed Tamiflu which many of them probably don't need. Surely this means the figures are over-estimates of the true spread of the disease? I'd like to know what proportion of swabbed suspected cases have actually tested positive for SF (I believe that small numbers are still being swabbed) and what proportion actually had other illnesses.

Response

Grammerpolice, thanks. You’re right to say that the figures we publish every week are an estimate. The reality is that at the moment there are thousands of suspected cases every day. That is why we stopped the policy of swabbing everyone who may have swine flu.

Instead, the Health Protection Agency swabs a small number of patients as a sample, and then we use this along with the number of cases reported by GPs to produce an overall estimate. They do this every year with seasonal flu so have experience in giving us a good picture of how the virus is spreading across the country.

studentmummy: Hello and welcome Mr Burnham - Can you tell me why ‘under threes’ do not make it onto Professor Salisbury’s priority list for the vaccination program in the autumn. I completely fail to comprehend the reason for this given that ‘under-fives’ are the highest risk group in terms of being the most affected category, possessing highest proportional number of hospitalisations and highest projected mortality rates? According to Salisbury’s priority list, ‘under threes’ come at the very end of the queue together with the rest of the population instead of amongst other children (three and over) who are somewhat near the top of the list. Is there an explanation for this? If so it might need disseminating to the parental population to help us make informed choices.

Frasersmum123: How will you insure that those who are at most risk will get the Vaccine? Will it be the case that you will have to prove hom asthmatic you are for example, or will it be a blanket vaccination for everyone that has a condition that puts them in the 'at risk' category?

BrightShinySun: Hi, sorry am I am late to this discussion. Just two simple questions really..
1. Are the under 5's (as they seem to be hit the hardest when they do contract SF) going to be priority when the vacination does arrive?
2. Bearing in mind it does not seem to be affecting the elderly as hard as the young why is there still talk of them being priority (no offence to the elderly of course) would it not make more sense to prioritise the 15-50(ish) yr olds that make up most of the country workforce and basically keep the country moving?
Thanks

Response

Thank you all for these questions on vaccinations, which I’ll respond to together. And I'm afraid the honest answer is that we haven’t yet reached a decision on who is going to receive the vaccine first. The list that ‘studentmummy’ refers to was not in any order and was simply a list of possible groups that had been identified to assist the NHS with its planning.

There will be limited supplies of the vaccine at first, and prioritising vaccinations is going to be a very tough call. However, we are discussing this with scientific experts and we'll make a decision, using the most up-to-date evidence about the severity and spread of the disease, once we've got a clearer idea of exactly how much vaccine will be available in the months ahead.

There is not enough experience of swine flu in children under the age of 5 in the UK yet. Other countries have not yet included young children as an at risk group but we have decided to take a precautionary approach and consider children under 5 as being at increased risk until further information makes this clearer. If a child under 5 has flu like symptoms you should contact the National Pandemic Flu Service.


studentmummy: Mr Burnham - The underlying causes theme seems to be one of the most dominant discussion threads here. If these details were released it would be helpful on a number of levels.
One - to help individuals assess their own relative degree of risk with regard to swine flu and promptness of treatment.
Two - it would help dispel rumours that the underlying causes is all a government cover up story to avert panic.
There seems to be real concern that almost anyone could be made retrospectively to fit into an underlying causes scenario and I am not altogether convinced by the tonsillitis story by the way!!

Response

Studentmummy, thanks for this. I’m afraid patient confidentiality means we can’t give out details of specific underlying conditions that people who have died with swine flu have suffered from.

What I can say is that we have to put swine flu into some perspective. For the vast majority of people it is a mild illness, but in some cases the symptoms can be more severe, and in rare cases it can be fatal.

We do know that people with serious health problems such as heart disease, a recent history of serious asthma, and compromised immune systems (eg HIV patients, or those going through chemotherapy) and children under one are at greater risk. They should contact their GP and take Tamiflu as soon as they get Swine Flu symptoms.

Of course, pregnancy can also weaken your immune system, so it’s important that pregnant women with swine flu also talk to their doctor or midwife who will be able to advise whether they need to take Relenza.

HEALTH SERVICES GENERALLY

1dilemma: Would anyone like to ask him why it is so hard to get an appointment? I am currently proofreading my complaint letter to the chief exec because I was refused a 24 week scan (I admit I turned up 15 mins late but I was kept waiting over an hour for my 12 week scan and tube delays aren't my fault) I was disconnected from the GP 4 times this morning in an attempt to get my next antenatal appointment and I have pretty much given up trying to get my kids their routine jabs I am fed up of being told there are no appointments left and I have to phone back between 8.45 and 8.50 in 3.5 weeks time on any day except one with a y in it!

JimmyMcNulty: Why can I not get an appointment to see a GP at my local practice (except for WEEKS in advance) except by ringing up at 8am on the dot for an 'emergency' appointment on the day? This was the same at my last GP practice as well before we moved area and I'm told it's so that they hit targets. Are you looking at fixing this?

Response

1dilemma, JimmyMcNulty – I’m really sorry to hear about your experiences.

I’ve made it very clear to local health authorities that everyone should be able to see their GP at a time that fits around their lives. That doesn’t just mean accessing appointments at short notice, but also being able to book them in advance.

The latest figures suggest that about three-quarters of those who wanted to book ahead for an appointment with a GP said they could do so. This is an improvement on the past, but it’s still not good enough.

I want to aim for a situation where all GPs can offer patients an appointment within the next two days, and allow them to book further ahead. If this isn’t happening in your area, you should take this up with your local Primary Care Trust, who are responsible for overseeing GP services.

CMOTdibbler: When Alan Johnston came to visit us, he promised that there would be a review of miscarriage and pregnancy loss services, having heard the heartbreaking stories here of how women were mistreated by the NHS (I'm sure Carrie and Justine will be glad to link you to the Miscarriage code of practice threads). I know you are a bit busy at the moment smile but could you let us know the status of this?

Response

Thanks CMOTdibbler. Yes it is a busy time! But I’m still very keen to pick up where Alan left off because I know the NHS can do a lot better in helping women deal with the physical and psychological effects of miscarriage.

Since Alan’s appearance on Mumsnet last year, we’ve been working very closely with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), and there has been some progress.

We’ve put money into RCOG’s new Standards for Gynaecology, which now sets out clear standards on how the NHS should help patients who have experienced miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and recurrent miscarriages.

Last August, we also published advice on how the NHS needs to improve facilities for families suffering pregnancy loss – at such a traumatic time, hospitals should do everything they can to ensure women can have their loved ones around them, and that’s where things like overnight stay rooms become very important.

I think it is encouraging that 97% of maternity services now have an Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit to manage problems in early pregnancy, such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, and to provide ongoing advice and support.

But I’m under no illusion there’s more to do – and over the coming months, we’ll be working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to improve the role that GPs can play in pregnancy care, and this should include bereavement counselling and building long term relationships with families who suffer the loss of a pregnancy.

herbietea: Why are those of us in England still having to pay for prescriptions when the rest of the UK don't?

Response

Herbietea, thanks for your question. We want all NHS services to be affordable and accessible – and that includes prescriptions.

From April this year, cancer patients became eligible for free prescriptions, and we are currently looking into extending this exemption for people with long term conditions – we’re expecting to make a decision on this in the autumn.

And help is already available for people who need extensive or frequent prescriptions. If you need more than 4 prescription items in any three month period or more than 14 items during a period of 12 months then it’s worth getting a Pre Payment Certificate. This means you can then get as many prescribed items as you need for £2.00 per week – and the cost can be spread by direct debit.

Herbietea: is it only English women's cervixs that show changes between 20-25? It must be as Scotland and Wales pay for the smears to be done during this time.

On cervical screening, I’m afraid we have taken a different view to our counterparts in the devolved administrations.

Last year, we asked an independent panel of experts to review the pros and cons of offering cervical screening in women under 25.

They unanimously concluded that the screening age should not be lowered. Treating women for abnormal cervical cell changes can increase premature birth. Cervical cancer is very rare among women under 25 and they are over three times more likely to produce false positives so it is the committee’s advice that screening at this age causes more harm than good.

This is a view that’s shared internationally. The World Health Organisation has recommended that screening starts at 25 since 2005. France, Belgium and Italy also begin screening at this age while the Netherlands start at 30.

BREASTFEEDING

elkiedee: What do you think the government could do to improve support within the NHS for those women who want to breastfeed but give up much earlier than they expected or planned to? Could someone ask about breastfeeding in public and protecting the right of all women to feed their babies/young children in public (and not just up to 6 months either). Can't quite put the words together properly, sorry!

Response

Elkiedee, thanks for taking part in the discussion. I agree with you that women should get all the advice and support they need to encourage them to breastfeed. There is clear evidence that breastfeeding your baby does have health benefits.

In terms of what we’re doing, the Government has put a lot of money behind the Baby Friendly Initiative. This is helping maternity units and other community settings like Sure Start Children’s Centres to provide help to mothers to start breastfeeding, and continued support in the community to sustain breastfeeding for longer.

I also agree with your point about protecting mother’s rights to breastfeed in public. There’s already strong protection for mums under the Sex Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to treat someone less favourably because she is breastfeeding – and this is the case whatever the age of her baby.

So a woman should have complete confidence that it is unlawful for a café owner or restauranteur, for example, to ask them to leave the premises because they are breastfeeding.

grendle: Why has all formula advertising including follow-on formula not yet been banned? These products are used and needed by lots of people, but they don't need to be advertised. Impartial information on formula and bottle feeding would be better than marketing.

Response

Grendle, there is a review already underway to look at whether we need to take further action on the way infant formula and follow-on formula is presented and advertised. It will also explore whether babies under six months are being fed follow on formula, and if so why.

This report is due at the end of this year, and we’ll take a decision once we’ve looked at the evidence. So rest assured, this is something that’s on our radar!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 31-Jul-09 10:33:12

Oooh, excellent. Well done Mr Burnham for getting back <brownie points to his aides anyway>

Will read.

thegrammerpolicesic Fri 31-Jul-09 12:46:11

I'm impressed. Well done Mr. Burnham.

Grendle Mon 03-Aug-09 19:33:20

Thank you v much for coming back and answering these. It is much appreciated smile.

LoveBeingAMummy Mon 10-Aug-09 07:49:35

Any news on the rest of the answers HQ?

WednesdaysChild Tue 11-Aug-09 10:12:44

Thank you Mr Burnham!

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