GP surgery safe despite doctor's swine flu

A GP's surgery was declared safe today despite one if its partners contracting swine flu.

More than 21 close contacts of Dr Eleanor Mair Williams of the Skewen Surgery near Neath, south Wales, are said to be well.

They have all been offered antiviral medicine to prevent them getting the flu.

Dr Williams started felling ill at work on Monday after a holiday to America. Two days later she was confirmed as being only the second person to have caught swine flu in Wales.

The National Public Health Service (NPHS) for Wales said they were taking the unusual step of identifying Dr Williams, with her full consent, because "of concerns that patients may not visit their GP if they fell ill for fear of catching the infection".

Dr Jorg Hoffmann, consultant in communicable disease control for the NPHS, said: "All necessary action has been taken to make sure it is safe to visit the Skewen Surgery without risk of catching swine flu.

"Dr Williams and other staff at the practice have worked closely with us after she was tested positive and I am grateful for their support in identifying the patients she had seen on Monday."

The 21 close contacts include 14 adults and seven children and are made up of surgery visitors, colleagues and social contacts.

Dr Williams said: "I am reassured that public health action has been taken to ensure the safety of my patients. I am recovering from a mild bout of flu and will only return to work when I am completely well and have completed the five days of treatment."

In the meantime, the Skewen Surgery remains open for business as usual.

Dr Hoffman added: "We continue to advise that anyone who has flu-like symptoms and has travelled to one of the affected areas should stay at home and phone their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.

"People should not go to accident and emergency departments or to their GP surgery without ringing first, as this may risk spreading the infection. It also places undue pressure on the emergency services."