Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

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 Advisers.

    —  Chief Executives:

    —  Primary Care Trusts (to copy to Public Health Specialist/Director of Public Health).

    —  Health Authorities (to copy to Director of Public Health and CCDC).


    —  Chief Executive.

    —  NHS Ambulance Trusts.

    —  NHS Acute Trusts.

    —  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.

    —  Director of the PHLS.

    —  Director of the CDSC.

    —  Medical Director of the NRPB.

    —  Regional Epidemiologists.

    —  CMOs Scotland, Wales and DCMO Northern Ireland and Health Emergency Planning Lead Officials.

  Dear Colleague


  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.

April 2002

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