The National Pandemic Flu Service is to close in a fortnight, the Department of Health has announced.

The DH has decided that both the web and telephone service will be discontinued simultaneously at 1am on Thursday, 11 February.

Ian Dalton, national director of NHS Flu Resilience, wrote to primary care trust and hospital chief executives this week, outlining the plans.

Dalton said the NPFS, launched in July, had been “very successful in easing pressure on primary care services during the busiest times of the pandemic.”

However, he said indicators showed that while levels of hospital admission continued to be significant, NHS pressures from swine flu were now half what they had been in the weeks before the NPFS was launched.

“The service can be restored in seven days should it be needed,” he added.

Dalton said a mid-week date had been chosen to close the NPFS to allow time during the working week “to gear up to making the change as smoothly as possible.”

He said PCTs, GP practices and community pharmacies would need to ensure that all their communications to patients, including websites, posters and leaflets, excluded reference to the NPFS.

The swine flu information line is to continue to operate. It will provide recorded information directing people to their GP if appropriate, while giving information about swine flu and self care.

Dalton said the government’s main scientific advisory group had reviewed antiviral policy and decided that GPs could continue to make antiviral medicines available to patients with swine flu, subject to their clinical discretion, until the end of March.

Antiviral policy will revert to normal from 1 April. The DH said PCTs would be expected to maintain a network of antiviral collection points appropriate to the level of swine flu in their areas.

Dalton added that the decision to stand down the NPFS and the current low levels of swine flu should not lead to a sense of complacency.

He added: “There is still considerable uncertainty about how the virus will behave over the coming months and years.”

GPs are to be encouraged to continue with the vaccination programme for children under five and those in the priority groups until the beginning of the 2010-11 flu season.