Emergencies come in many forms such as large scale transport accidents, major fires or explosions, terrorist attacks, severe weather flooding or significant disease outbreaks. Thankfully, they are the exception rather than the norm.
However, when emergencies do happen they bring about significant challenges and require coordinated effort and planned and practised response arrangements to meet those challenges.
All NHS organisations need to be prepared for, and able to respond to, unforeseen emergencies and incidents. Following the government’s reforms of the health service in April 2013, a programme of work within the NHS referred to as emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR) is being progressed.
The recent changes to the NHS have meant new arrangements for health EPRR, with local commissioning organisations having responsibility for oversight of the emergency preparedness of the healthcare providers (hospital trusts, community healthcare trusts, mental health trusts) they fund. Other changes include the Health Protection Agency becoming part of Public Health England and Directors of Public Health transferring to local authorities.
To be ready for emergencies, NHS organisations, including clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), develop plans and train and exercise relevant staff in those plans.
Emergencies are rarely confined to a single agency and by their nature involve a range of responders (eg police, fire and rescue, ambulance, local authorities). NHS organisations collaborate with partner organisations to agree and rehearse arrangements for multi-agency response to incidents.
Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG is represented on the Greater Manchester Local Health Resilience Partnership (LHRP), which meets regularly to discuss the county-wide approach to EPPR.
Local collaboration for emergency preparedness is progressed through a Health Economy Resilience Group (HERG) which includes representatives from local healthcare providers such as The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Local Authorities and Pennine Care Foundation Trust..
Together, the LHRP and the HERGs provide local NHS organisations with a forum for monitoring risks and threats and agreeing actions which will help the NHS in Greater Manchester to be ready to respond to emergencies.
Further information and resources relating to emergency preparedness can be found by following the links below:
- Cold weather – advice on the NHS Choices website
- Getting ready for winter – information from the Met Office
- Heatwave – advice on the NHS Choices website
- Met Office – severe weather warnings
- Greater Manchester Resilience
- NHS England – wider NHS emergency preparedness
- Public Health England – response to public health incidents (eg disease outbreaks)