Note from Dr Bruce Court to Regional Directors
of Public Health, Regional Health Emergency Planning Advisors
and Chief Executive of Primary Care Trusts (9 April 2002)
Regional Directors of Public Health.
Regional Health Emergency Planning
Primary Care Trusts (to copy to Public
Health Specialist/Director of Public Health).
Health Authorities (to copy to Director
of Public Health and CCDC).
NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency.
NHS Logistics Authority.
National Blood Service.
Directors of Health and Social Care.
Medical Director of the National
Focus for Chemical Incidents.
Medical Director of the NRPB.
CMOs Scotland, Wales and DCMO Northern
Ireland and Health Emergency Planning Lead Officials.
Following the changes to the health service
organisation described in Shifting the Balance of Power, the overall
responsibility for the health of the population is passing from
Health Authorities to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). As a result,
arrangements will be necessary to ensure the emergency planning
function previously carried out by Health Authorities is effectively
taken forward by PCTs.
The PCT Functions Regulations have been amended
from 1st April 2002 in order to remove the bar on PCTs exercising
the powers delegated to them by Health Authorities, eg under sections
2-5 of the NHS Act 1977, to carry out planning for major incidents
(PCT Functions (Amendment) Regulations 2002).
In the interim period up to October 2002, the
28 new Health Authorities will still formally retain responsibility
for planning for major incidents but unlike their predecessors
can delegate this function to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
The new Health Authorities should make arrangements
to delegate the emergency planning function to PCTs as soon as
practicable during the period up to October 2002 when, subject
to Parliament agreeing the necessary legislation, it is expected
that Health Authorities will be renamed as Strategic Health Authorities
and will take on fully their strategic role.
These arrangements and plans should be prepared
to the satisfaction of Regional Directors of Public Health (RDsPH)
who will be supported by expertise from Regional Health Emergency
Planning Advisers (HEPAs) and Regional Epidemiologists (REs).
Consultants in Communicable Disease Control (CCDCs) will also
need to make a contribution to these plans.
It will be the responsibility of PCT Chief Executives
to ensure that plans and arrangements are in place for their own
PCT. They will also need collaborative arrangements with neighbouring
NHS organisations and partner agencies. Chief Executives of the
new Health Authorities should nominate lead PCTs for emergency
planning to take on the co-ordination function previously carried
out by Health Authorities.
RDsPH will also need to be satisfied that their
health community can continue to participate effectively in the
multi-agency response arrangements for dealing with major incidents
including public health emergencies. This includes health service
provision of the Joint Advisory Cell (JHAC) at a Police Main Base
Station in the event of a CBRN incident.
Your Regional Emergency Planning Advisor will
be able to provide further advice and assistance.