Examination of Witnesses (Questions 295-299)|
21 OCTOBER 2003
Q295 Chairman: Good afternoon. Welcome.
We do not have terribly long so perhaps you could introduce yourselves
and we will get straight on with the questions.
Mr Kealy: I am the emergency planning
lead manager for West Yorkshire strategic health authority.
Mr Williams: I am emergency planning
officer from the Welsh ambulance service representing the North
Wales health emergency planning group today.
Mr Pullin: I am director for emergency
planning for the five strategic health authorities in London.
Q296 Chairman: Do you think the definition
of "emergency" in the Bill is too wide or too narrow?
Can you perhaps give some examples of the type of emergency that
you think would be most appropriately be covered by this Bill?
Are there any incidents that might not be appropriate for the
Bill to encompass?
Mr Pullin: Within the NHS we have
worked through the NHS guidance on emergency planning and there
is a clear definition within that guidance which offers the opportunity
to deal with not only a local major incident but also wider catastrophic
incidents, and we respond accordingly, so within the remit of
the Bill itself the NHS has broad agreement with the definitions
Mr Kealy: I think it is sufficiently
comprehensive and general to be very useful to NHS organisations
of all types, really.
Mr Williams: I concur with both
my colleagues believing that the definition actually moves on
from the previous Acts and will give us a firmer footing for the
Q297 Chairman: Any
Mr Kealy: As my colleague says
we do make a distinction between big bang catastrophic eventsthe
classic train crash, aeroplane crash, major casualty eventsand
rising tide emergencies, things like the recent SARS outbreak
internationally which did not become an emergency for this country
but could have. A `flu pandemic might be a good example of a rising
tide emergency that would not develop on one day but would develop
over time, and those two extremes are the kind of scenarios we
would be working around.
Mr Pullin: I think it is worth
noting that post September 11 we are working and dealing with
a different planning scenario altogether which is tens and hundreds
of thousands of casualties, and that is something that is testing
our planning process at this stage.
Q298 Lord Condon:
In addition to your first comments, is there anything you would
like to add in terms of any threshold that you think should be
set for the type of emergency that would (a) require statutory
plans and (b) would trigger emergency powers?
Mr Williams: I think it would
come down to the assessment of the risk. I believe that what we
need to do, firstly, is assess the various incidents or locations
to build up a risk assessment and that would then trigger a requirement
for statutory planning.
Mr Kealy: Indeed, and building
from that I think we would find it very difficult to quantify
where a threshold would be arrived at but it would be a question
of, where we could not cope with a particular set of circumstances
through normal management arrangements and operational procedures,
at that stage we would want to be able to make a decision to declare
an emergency or be involved in that decision. But it is very difficult
to try and quantify or be explicit about that.
Q299 Mr Llwyd: Which
of the National Health organisations in England and Wales do you
consider should be included in category 1, category 2 or perhaps
not at all?
Mr Pullin: From the London perspective
I was responsible for gathering the London wide response. I think
it is appropriate to have in category 1 strategic health authorities,
PCTs and acute trusts. I think it is a recognised admission. They
are part of the emergency service; they may not be a blue light
in terms of the London ambulance or the ambulance service at large,
but certainly the response and the planning is well within the
remit and it is a key responsibility of the strategic health authority
and the PCTs, and in any event they have a crucial role in terms
of the operational management of an incident, not only in terms
of the NHS at large but also the multi agency co-ordination, and
they play a major part in that co-ordination.
Mr Williams: From a Wales perspective
where the structure is slightly different we agree that it should
be both trusts, the ambulance service and local health boards
as category 1 organisations, but other organisations possibly
within category 2.