Herald Opinion: Impossible not to moved by the plea made by a grieving mum

AS SWINE flu horror stories vie for space and airtime on our newspapers, radio and television, the Department of Health is sticking to its guns and insisting only the vulnerable should be vaccinated.

As the Herald went to press 45 people were known to have died from the flu virus this winter and the number is likely to increase dramatically with the release of new statistics.

In Eastbourne alone it is believed at least two people have died from swine flu.

Last week the Herald also reported the story of 14-month-old Elspeth Hill who almost died from swine flu but pulled through after five days of treatment at the DGH.

Public concern is growing, especially among parents of young children, but the official guidance is, unlike last year, children who do not have underlying health conditions should not be vaccinated.

The vaccine for the swine flu virus has been included in this year’s flu jab but the Government has been advised, by independent health experts, not to make it available to all under fives.

This decision is likely to have been made on the likelihood of healthy children contracting the potentially virus combined with the cost and logistics of rolling out the vaccination to all under-fives.

But it is impossible not to moved by the plea made by a grieving mum from Birmingham who lost her three-year-old daughter to swine flu.

She believes the vaccine should be given to all children and said her child’s death could have been avoided.

Everyone will hope the spread of the virus will slow or the Government may be forced to re-think its position.

EASTBOURNE residents should be extremely concerned about the future of the pathology lab at the DGH.

In recent months the Herald has reported plans to strip down hospital laboratories all over the county.

The NHS Trust which runs the DGH and the Conquest in Hastings has already agreed in principle to a proposal to dramatically downscale services at six hospitals and run the majority of blood tests from just one site.

The move has been criticised by staff at both hospitals who have said standards will drop and could lead to delays in diagnosis.

They are also unhappy about the lack of consultation and one well-respected DGH campaigner has said decisions are being made ‘behind closed doors’.

NHS bosses insist no final decision has been made but unless the public make their voices heard it seems very likely these vital services will be slashed and centralised at just one location.