Primary care trusts in the worst affected areas have found a variety of ways of dealing with the outbreak.

Recent GP consultation figures showed NHS Leicester City, NHS South of Tyne and Wear and NHS Telford and Wrekin were hot spots.

NHS Telford and Wrekin flu director Kevin Moore said it put staff into badly affected GP services to help with triage.

He added: “One key thing has been strong ownership from the board. It gives me the authority to pull people in from elsewhere.”

NHS Leicester City public health consultant Tim Davies said its antiviral distribution centres were at NHS sites staffed by NHS employees. If demand increases it may also use local authority staff at leisure centres. It is using a private firm for its storage, distribution and security.

NHS South of Tyne and Wear public health director Judy Thomas said it was mainly administration staff who were manning the distribution centres. It is looking at taking on temporary staff and contacting those recently retired.

Dr Thomas said: “We are having to work a little bit smarter where staff have been moved; some senior staff are having to take on different work.”