A strategic and independent review of the UK-wide response to the swine flu pandemic was announced today.
Dame Deirdre Hine, a former Welsh Chief Medical Officer, will chair the independent review to examine the pandemic response across all four UK nations, including Scotland.
Dame Deirdre will report to Ministers with recommendations before summer parliamentary recess in any of the four nations of the UK.
The review is being conducted as part of the normal procedure following a major emergency response. The findings will be used to inform any future planning for pandemics and help ensure that plans remain robust.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon said:
"Reviewing the response to swine flu is a crucial step to ensuring that we remain prepared to deal with potentially more virulent pandemics in the future.
"Having planned for the event of a pandemic for a number of years, Scotland was widely recognised as one of the most prepared countries in the world. Although swine flu continues to be present in Scotland, it's at the lowest level since the disease first appeared. It is now an appropriate time to begin this independent review, which will be crucial in examining how response was managed.
"While it is recognised that the H1N1 pandemic was much less severe than anticipated, it has, undoubtedly, placed significant pressures on health services and has tragically claimed a number of lives. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to all involved in the response, especially to staff in the NHS who have dealt with millions of patients and families affected. I would also like to express my sympathies to those families who have lost loved ones."
The review team will conduct a strategic review of all the key elements of the response including interviews with key individuals involved. However, it will be for Dame Deirdre to determine precisely how she wishes to proceed.
Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that there have been at least 16,813 deaths from swine flu. There have been 69 reported and confirmed swine flu related deaths in Scotland to date.