Supplementary memorandum from the Department
of Health (7 May 2002)
A copy of the letter sent to Civil Contingencies
Secretariat by Dr Bruce Court, DOH Head of Emergency Planning
I am writing to you in response to the above
discussion document on behalf of Dr Pat Troop who has responsibility
for emergency planning as Deputy Chief Medical Officer.
The document adopts a fairly "broad-brush"
approach and particularly addresses the matter of organisational
relationships. This is very important as the effectiveness of
the emergency response is determined by the clarity and strength
of relationships at all levels from local, through to regional
The duty to share in partnership is an excellent
notion but one that only has credence as organisations actualise
this. This means the venturing of trust and on occasions, finance
to achieve mutually agreed emergency planning goals. Mechanisms
need to be sought that are conducive to the growth of partnership
and this is most likely to occur in locations where there is a
strong history of collaboration between local authorities, health
and the voluntary sector. The events of the 11 September are likely
to have reinforced the public's expectation for "a proactive,
speedy and caring response in emergencies, irrespective of legal
obligations and potential costs".
There is certainly a need to reduce unacceptable
variation in the emergency planning function and this directly
related to being prepared to have a clear framework for the development
of multi-agency plans and greater consistency of work.
Leadership requirements alter according to the
specific nature of the incident that is being dealt with eg an
outbreak of communicable disease due to a deliberate or accidental
situation requires experienced public health professional leadership.
The DH document "Shifting the Balance of
Power within the NHSSecuring Delivery" sets out organisational
changes that are designed to support a bigger and longer term
change in culture and ways of working. This is referred to in
the Government's Response to the House of Commons Select Committee
on Health's Second Report on Public Health. The formation of strong
regional public health groups, co-located in the nine Government
Offices of the Regions will have important functions in ensuring
protection of health across each region including emergency and
disaster planning and management. The Emergency Planning Co-ordination
Unit has related to Health Emergency Planning Advisors in the
regions and will continue to build appropriate national and international
networks having been recently absorbed into the Public Health
Group (PH5) of the Department of Health.
The terrorist attacks in the USA cause us to
think beyond our established organisational boundaries and to
seek solutions that minimise duplication and maximise efficient
and effective emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and