Letter from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear
Strategic Health Authority
Many thanks for your letter dated 23 July to
the SHA Chief Executive, David Flory, which has been passed to
me for action.
In response to your specific questionwhether
the NHS should be considered a category 1 or category 2 responderour
local experience is that we find it necessary already to function
at the category 1 level as described in the consultation in our
dealings with local partner agencies.
There are very few (if any) areas of potential
resilience response which do not have NHS implications. These
implications are often of an emergency nature and require rapid
implementation supported by excellent communications. Inclusion
in the core process of planning certainly facilitates this.
In view of this, it is likely that the NHS will
be a de facto category 1 organisation whatever the bill says,
and it would seem sensible for the bill to reflect it.
Some clarity about what is meant by "NHS"
would also be useful in the structuring of the bill. It does seem
a little odd, when the consultation includes NHS Ambulance Trusts
under category 1, then to be asked whether the NHS should be included
At present, all trusts and primary care organisations
have formal emergency plans. These have some differences, but
are broadly coordinated through locally established fora that
include public health representatives and Health Emergency Planning
Advisors from Local Government Offices, Strategic Health Authority
representatives and emergency planning leads from the local NHS
organisations. In guidance the SHA has a performance management
role here, but in practice, may be more actively involved in the
processes of planning and preparedness.
Ambulance trusts are leading players in these
fora, but I would suggest that it is the broader, network structures
that need to be included within category 1 planning for civil
contingencies rather than just the ambulance trusts. The Health
Protection Agency also will have a growing role in this regard.
We need to ensure that the local NHS responds
as a functional whole in a crisis, with clear lines of accountability
that can be rapidly implemented. This is likely to be easier with
greater pre-crisis involvement.
I trust that this addresses your question. Please
contact me again if I can be of further help.
Deputy Medical Director