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Appeal to keep schools running

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Respondents to LGC’s swine flu survey believed social care services would be put under more strain than adult social care - but hands-on experience at Britain’s biggest council may prove otherwise

Fifty-six percent of chief executives and senior officers said they believed social care would be under particular strain as a result of the pandemic, compared to 43% who said the same about children’s services.

However, Jim McManus, joint director of public health in Birmingham, said that as well as greater susceptibility to H1N1v among the young, the 34 swine-flu related school closures in the city over the summer showed devastating knock-on potential for key workers.

“We’ve got to keep schools open, otherwise social care and the NHS will go belly up,” he said.

Mr McManus said that the city was looking into ways to pool teaching staff so that at least a proportion of schools could be kept open if significant numbers of staff were unable to work.

He said that in a widespread outbreak there would be no reason to close schools to prevent infection, but key workers’ childcare responsibilities – coupled with absences through illness – would add unnecessarily to the pressures faced by the system.

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