Joint Committee on Draft Civil Contingencies Bill Written Evidence

Memorandum from NHS London


  The draft Civil Contingencies Bill was released for public consultation on 19 June 2003. The document was circulated widely to NHS organisations throughout London. Comments were sent to the Director of Emergency Planning, SW London Strategic Health Authority. This report represents a compilation of the responses.

  The response is supplied under three headings that correspond to the Parts and Schedules listed in the draft Bill.


  The NHS (apart from ambulance Trusts) is currently excluded from either of the two categories in the draft. A case could be made for the inclusion of acute Trusts, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) and Regional Public Health Groups in Category 1.

  The organisations currently listed in Category 1 all have a function in the aftermath of an incident that results in the immediate protection of life. Acute Trusts, PCTs, SHAs and Regional Public Health Groups share this duty; indeed these organisations have their emergency role well documented. These NHS organisations are currently required to plan for and react to an "emergency".

  There may be a special requirement to consider the development of Foundation Trusts, whose status inside or outside the NHS is not yet clear due to the current progress of the legislation. The Bill could make provision for acute facilities that sit outside of the NHS.

  There is also no mention of Special Health Trusts or non acute Trusts. It may be expedient to mention formally these structures in Category 2, as they will have a key support role in an "emergency".


  These powers are unprecedented and far-reaching. They may, for the first time, provide a legal mechanism to enforce necessary public health precautions, such as quarantine or detain contaminated individuals/groups.

  It is not clear whether indemnity for organisations acting under the direction of a regulation is properly addressed. Clarification is required as to whether the NHS could be held legally and financially accountable for actions undertaken under the terms of the draft Bill.

  A power to give directions or orders can be given to a "specified individual". This may need some clarification: will this individual be an elected official, a member of a Category 1 or 2 organisation or some other person?

  Clarification needs to be sought on how the Category 1 organisations can seek to benefit from emergency powers. How, for example, would the NHS seek to enforce an area of quarantine or the commandeering of private sector facilities?

  Clarification is also required on the appointment of Regional and Emergency Co-ordinators. Will these individuals be pre-selected or will it vary depending on the type of incident?


  Acute Trusts, PCTs, SHAs, Regional Public Health Groups and future acute organisations outside of the NHS could be listed in Schedule 1, Category 1 under the existing "Miscellaneous" or a new heading, "Health".

  Special Health Trusts and other non-acute Trusts could be considered for Schedule 1, Category 2. The Health Protection Agency could also be listed under Schedule 1, Category 1 under "Miscellaneous" or a new heading, "Health".


  The wider NHS and the Health Protection Agency (including the Health Emergency Planning Advisers) could be considered for inclusion in the main body of the final Bill. The Bill could confer some real advantages to NHS operational effectiveness. The Bill also throws up a wide range of issues that need careful consideration. For example, it may be necessary to plan pre-defined responses to regulations or orders proposed in the "heat of the moment".

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 28 November 2003