Local council staff to communicate swine flu messages as situation worsens

Local council staff could be used to deliver messages about swine flu if the pandemic gets worse.

Swine flu: local government to deliver messages
Swine flu: local government to deliver messages

The Local Government Association is holding a meeting in Birmingham today for local councils to swap advice on how to deal with the crisis.

This comes a day after the launch of the NHS's swine flu website, which crashed due to overwhelming demand.

The chairman of the LGA's environment board will tell local councils to draw up plans detailing how staff could help in the case of a crisis situation. These plans could include staff becoming ‘flu buddies' by delivering medication and comms messages to residents.
 
An LGA spokesperson said: ‘I am not saying that every council worker is being trained up to deliver comms messages, but all council staff are ambassadors for the council. They talk about what the council does as they go about their daily job. They are close to the community and would be a great help'.
 
In a worst-case scenario, councils will have to decide which services to keep running as a priority. Press offices will today be advised to draw up plans about communicating which services will remain running to residents.

But Westminster City Council's director of comms Alex Aiken believes that using community groups and press officers is a more effective way of getting messages out. 'Public servants need to do the jobs they are paid to do first. Otherwise it could have a negative knock-on effect,' he said.

Over the last few weeks, the council has been holding meetings with local community and religious leaders to discuss the issue. This includes debating how to deliver key messages to those who do not have English as a first language

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