accessibility & help

British Red Cross steps up swine flu response as hotline goes live

23 July 2009
For further information please contact
Mark South
Contact number tel: 0044 (0)207 877 7042 / email: / out of hours 07659 145 095

On the day the government has launched its National Pandemic Service, the British Red Cross is again showing its commitment to helping those most in need.

As the number of swine flu cases rises, the British Red Cross has stepped up its role supporting local health and emergency services to make sure the most vulnerable receive the support they need.

“We have been working with authorities from the outset in planning for and responding to the swine flu outbreak,” said Vanessa Spiller, British Red Cross’ head of UK emergency response.

“As cases continue to rise, the Red Cross is rolling out its plans to support health services across the UK in dealing with the pandemic and caring for increased numbers of patients. The National Pandemic Service will be a very useful tool to help ensure those who have symptoms get the right treatment.”

In some parts of the country, the Red Cross, alongside other voluntary organisations, is already providing services such as the transportation of non-emergency patients to relieve pressure on the ambulance service, and ‘flu friends’ support including the delivery and distribution of anti-viral medicine.

“At the moment, people diagnosed with swine flu over the phone are being asked to get a ‘flu friend’ - friends or family - to collect their antivirals for them. In the vast majority of cases this is not a problem but unfortunately there are some who really have nobody else to help them,” said Spiller.  
 “We would always encourage people to look out for their neighbours, friends and family, and that is especially true at the moment. Almost anyone can be a flu friend and help those with the virus access the medicine and support they need.
“We would recommend that people ask their families, friends, work colleagues or neighbours to be their flu friends before they become ill and keep their contact details handy.

“Red Cross volunteers can be requested by local health authorities to act as flu friends to the most vulnerable, helping ensure those unable to call on friends or family receive the help they need.”

Anyone who thinks they may have swine flu should call the National Pandemic Service on 0800 1 513 100 or 0800 1 513 200 (Textphone) or visit


The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.