The Department of Health says primary care trusts across the country are ready to establish antiviral collection points within a week following a dramatic increase in cases.

They have been charged with diagnosing swine flu and distributing antivirals. Until now, the Health Protection Agency led diagnosis and monitoring of cases and traced people each infected patient had been in contact with. This will now stop.

Health secretary Andy Burnham said if the spread continued at the same rate there could be 100,000 new cases per day by the end of next month.

Because of the increase, the government is moving from a policy of containment to outbreak management.

This means GPs will diagnose cases directly rather than waiting for test results and primary care trusts will establish antiviral collection points to distribute the drugs. GPs will issue vouchers for antivirals from the collection points.

Mr Burnham said: “There is lots of work going on to ensure the NHS is equipped and ready to cope.

“All the strategic health authorities have confirmed that PCTs are ready to mobilise antiviral collection points within seven days.”

He said the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advised the government antivirals should be targeted at high risk groups but because the decision was “finely balanced” it had decided to make them available to everyone infected.