Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1000
WEDNESDAY 17 APRIL 2002
ROBERTS OBE AND
1000. Do you think the CCS is making a difference?
That it really is doing what it was set up to do?
(Mr Roberts) It is early days yet but I think it is
certainly acting as a catalyst or an irritant to make sure that
things are being done and we are addressing the problem. Our experience
thus far, and as I say it is limited, is, yes, it is making a
1001. It is good if it is an irritant because
we have had other witnesses who have never heard of it, so there
you are. One other question. One of the bodies which has given
us evidence has said, "This is a necessary body but we do
not think the CCS is the one to do it. What we need is a sort
of free-standing agency." Is that something you are thinking
within your Association? Do you have a view about it?
(Mr Bradley) I have a London view, while Gron is thinking.
Certainly we have to be careful we do not get duplication. We
have had the CCS and also the London Resilience Team and I think
there is an issue around the potential duplication of work. We
also have in London the LESLEC (?) Forum, the London Emergency
Services Liaison Panel, so we have to be careful we do not get
too many committees. I attended the first London Resilience Team
meeting, which was chaired by Nick Raynsford, I think it was,
and there were 65 people there talking about preparation for terrorism.
I think if we are not careful, we will have too many people and
it gets too complicated to try and get any results.
(Mr Roberts) Much of this is unfortunately about the
fact you have to invest. We have not invested in civil defence
in this country for many, many years and therefore we do need
a fairly powerful forum. If the Cabinet Secretariat is not it,
then you would have to put it somewhere else. If you are in spending
departments you are always arguing one thing against the other,
and in the NHS in particular we tend to be terribly focused on
some short-term targets.
1002. We were talking earlier on about the radio
system and the police decision to procure airwaves. I understand
the NHS believes unlike the fire service that there ought to be
a national system for the ambulance service's 15,500 individual
units. You mentioned the question of inter-operability earlier.
Do you believe it is essential that there should be that inter-operability
with the other two emergency services and what involvement are
you having in the procurement of this radio system?
(Mr Roberts) Absolutely. We believe that it is really
important, particularly for this type of incident, that people
on the ground are able to speak to each other. The national procurement
for the NHS is going ahead. As I say, we have just drawn up what
does inter-operability mean kinds of agreements between the three
emergency services. The philosophy for the fire service is a little
bit different in that they want to communicate with fire teams
so a lot more of their focus is on communicating through the control
rooms. We want to be able to speak to people directly at the scene
a lot more than they do, it is just a role difference really.
We believe 100 per cent in fact that you have to have the inter-operability
to get the level of resilience and operational capability for
1003. You have a good involvement in the decision
making process, do you?
(Mr Roberts) Absolutely.
(Mr Bradley) I think the focus is not a day to day
requirement, it is more around for the major incidents. The day
to day requirement to speak to ambulance, fire and police is not
there but it is for this major incident scenario.
1004. We have a copy of the National Audit Office
report. If you would not mind, if there is any additional documentation
you could send to us because you have gathered the drift of our
questions, we would be really grateful to receive it.
When you look at the National Audit Office report, it is a bit
worrying, it suggests that the Ambulance Service will opt out
of a mode of enhanced communication that a lot of other public
bodies are investing in. It would seem rather ludicrous having
different emergency services operating different communication
systems. When you read the report, Mr Bradley and Mr Roberts,
it might be quite helpful if you consult your colleagues and give
us an indication as to how things are emerging. Really, lastly,
absolutely lastly, if I might add this final question on funding.
The increased level of terrorist threat does not seem to have
been met by an increase in resources, certainly not through the
Civil Defence Grant mechanism. The Ambulance Service states that
"The ability to organise and then maintain the capability
to respond to such incidents, ie large scale terrorist attacks,
will require initial and ongoing investment, particularly in staff
training". Can you put an ever so rough figure on what additional
investment might be needed? We are not going to hold you to any
commitments to the figures but we do not have the slightest idea.
Are we talking about half a million, a million, five million,
ten million, 15 million, I have no idea.
(Mr Roberts) I wish I had an idea, Chairman. Until
we get the national doctrine, translate that into what does this
mean, how many of these do we need, what framing do they need,
it would be absolute guess work.
1005. Okay. Do you believe that the health service
overall, or the Department of Health, regards such investment
as a priority?
(Mr Roberts) I have seen some evidence that they do
regard increasing preparedness as a priority. When we put the
cost to ministers, whether that will compete against all the other
priorities, I have no idea.
Chairman: Thank you both very much. It
has been very helpful. If there is any additional information,
please let us know.
1 Ev. 187. Back