With surveillance data indicating an increase in flu cases in the community, GPs and other prescribers working in primary care may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of flu at NHS expense.

A CMO alert issued before Christmas advises antiviral medicines may be prescribed for patients in “clinical at‐risk groups” as well as any who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from flu if not treated.

Information on at-risk groups and patients eligible for NHS treatment with either oseltamivir (Tamiflu), or zanamivir (Relenza), is available in PHE guidance on use of antiviral agents for the treatment and prophylaxis of seasonal flu.

Prescribers should endorse antiviral FP10 prescriptions with SLS. Pharmacies are advised to only order antiviral medicines as needed.

The news comes as hospitals have been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February, as NHS officials warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades due to a spike in winter flu cases.

It is estimated that around 50,000 planned operations will be affected.

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