UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy

Closed 17 Jun 2011

Opened 22 Mar 2011


Pandemic influenza is one of the most severe natural challenges likely to affect the UK, but sensible and proportionate preparation and collective action by the Government; essential services; businesses; the media; other public, private and voluntary organisations; and communities; can help to mitigate its effects.

This strategy describes proposals for an updated, UK-wide strategic approach to planning for and responding to the demands of an influenza pandemic. It builds on, but supersedes, the approach set out in the 2007 National framework for responding to an influenza pandemic, taking account of the experience and lessons learned in the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic and the latest scientific evidence.  A more detailed account of the science underpinning the proposals has been published along with this strategy.

Key changes

Whilst the overall approach is not substantially different from the 2007 National Framework, there are a number of key changes to the previous approach, reflecting the lessons learned following the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic and the recommendations of the National Independent Review and other reports. The details are included in the strategy document.

Chief among these are the need to:

  • Develop better plans for the initial response to a new influenza pandemic, when the focus should be on rapid and accurate assessment of the nature of the influenza virus and its effects, both clinically and in relation to wider public health implications.
  • Put in place plans to ensure a response that is in proportion to a range of scenarios to meet the differing demands of pandemic influenza viruses of milder and more severe impact, rather than just focusing on the “worst case” planning assumptions.
  • Take greater account of differences in the rate and pattern of spread of the disease across the UK and internationally.
  • Take better account of the learning from behavioural scientists about how people are likely to think, feel and behave during an influenza pandemic.
  • Develop better plans for managing the end of an influenza pandemic – the recovery phase and preparation for subsequent seasonal influenza outbreaks.


A UK-wide strategy

This is a UK-wide strategy, jointly produced by DH and Cabinet Office. It has also been developed jointly across the four nations of the UK, with professional, NHS, social care and public health organisations, and based on advice from clinical, scientific and other experts.

We invite comments

Many other organisations and individuals have extensive experience of the challenges that can be posed by a pandemic and will have given these challenges much thought.  We are keen to ensure that this experience is fully reflected. Therefore, we invite comments and views on this strategy.

You may find it helpful to read the complete strategy, which is available at the following link:

Why We Are Consulting

This consultation seeks views specifically on:

  1. the proposed characterisation of low, moderate and high impact influenza pandemics in order to understand how best to coordinate a response in the health sector and across wider society and;
  2. the revised five phase structure of the UK response to the threat of an influenza pandemic.

More generally, the consultation also invites comment on the broad approach adopted for the strategy, organised around three principles – precautionary action, proportionality, and flexibility.

Following the conclusion of the consultation period, the strategy will be updated to take account of the comments received, and a final version will be published. 

This final document will also incorporate the outcome of an ongoing review of planning assumptions for high impact, low probability events such as a pandemic.

We would encourage you to respond to the consultation online (see link below). However, you can also respond by emailing or by post to:

Consultation Responses, Department of Health, Room 451C, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London SE1 6LH

The final date for responses is 17 June 2011, but earlier expressions of views would be helpful.

As this is a UK-wide consultation, responses will be shared with the devolved administrations.

An Impact Assessment (IA) has not been completed at this time as the Consultation does not have a cost/benefit impact. However, a Final IA will be published to support the final strategy.

The consultation process

This consultation follows the ‘Government Code of Practice’, in particular, we aim to:

•  formally consult at a stage where there is scope to influence the policy outcome

•  consult for at least 12 weeks with consideration given to longer timescales where feasible and sensible;

•  be clear about the consultation’s process in the consultation documents, what is being proposed, the scope to influence and the expected costs and benefits of the proposals;

 •ensure the consultation exercise is designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at, those people it is intended to reach;

•  keep the burden of consultation to a minimum to ensure consultations are effective and to obtain consultees’ ‘buy-in’ to the process;

•  analyse responses carefully and give clear feedback to participants following the consultation;

• ensure officials running consultations are guided in how to run an effective consultation exercise and share what they learn from the experience.

The full text of the code of practice is on the Better Regulation website at:

How to comment on the consultation process

If you would like to make any comments about the consultation process we have followed, please contact the Consultations Co-ordinator, Department of Health, 3E48 Quarry House, Leeds, LS2 7UE. Email:

Please do not send answers to the consultation questions to this address or mailbox.

Confidentiality of information

We manage the information you provide in response to this consultationin accordance with the Department of Health's Information Charter.

Information we receive, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this, it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department.

What Happens Next


Following the conclusion of the consultation period, the strategy will be updated to take account of the comments received, and a final version will be published.  This final document will also incorporate the outcome of an ongoing review of planning assumptions for high impact, low probability events such as a pandemic, along with accompanying documents as detailed in Chapter 8 of the document.


  • Voluntary groups
  • Clinicians
  • Managers
  • Commissioners
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Pharmacists
  • Healthcare scientists
  • Foundation Trusts
  • Regulatory body
  • Academic/ Professional institution
  • Employer representatives
  • Employee representatives
  • Deaneries
  • Local authority
  • Social care provider
  • Directors of Adult Social Care Services
  • Members of the public


  • Infectious disease
  • Public health
  • Health protection
  • Immunisation
  • Public Health England
  • Health Protection Agency