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A National Framework For Responding To An Influenza Pandemic

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3 STRUCTURES FOR PLANNING AND RESPONSE

Planning for and responding to the challenges of an influenza pandemic requires the combined and co-ordinated effort of all levels of Government, public authorities/agencies and a wide range of private and voluntary organisations.

At the international, UK and Scottish level, a number of structures are already in place for the planning and response phase and this chapter details those organisations and structures.

3.1 International

As an influenza pandemic will be an international public health emergency, the UK works closely with international bodies and other countries to encourage coordinated surveillance, planning, research and response. Key to this is the World Health Organisation ( WHO). The World Health Organization is the United Nations specialised agency for health. It seeks to improve epidemic and pandemic influenza preparedness and responses by co-ordinating international surveillance, investigation and response.

At European level, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ( ECDC) was established in 2005 as an agency of the EC to support improved control of communicable diseases in Europe. Its role is to identify, assess and communicate current and emerging threats from communicable diseases. The centre works with the EC, Member States, other agencies and international organisations to perform these tasks.

3.2 UK Planning structures

MISC32 Cabinet Committee

A Ministerial Committee ( MISC 32) on pandemic flu was established in 2005 to guide the preparations for a potential influenza pandemic and related international activity. It comprises Ministers from across central government departments and is attended by the Minister for Health and Community Care to represent the Scottish Executive.

MISC32 Flu Working Group

MISC32 Flu Working Group is the UK officials group which guides the preparations for a potential influenza pandemic and related international activity. Scottish Executive officials attend this group.

Scientific Groups

As detailed in section 1.7, there are a number of UK groups set up to ensure that the best scientific advice is fed into policy and the development of operational plans. These include the Scientific Advisory Group and UK National Influenza Pandemic Committee ( UKNIPC). Scottish Executive officials attend these groups.

Committee on ethical aspects of pandemic influenza ( CEAPI)

As detailed in section 1.9 a UK Ethics Committee has been set up to consider ethical issues in public health, healthcare and community care arising from pandemic influenza. There is Scottish representation on the group and it is chaired by the Very Reverend Graham Forbes, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral Edinburgh.

Pandemic Influenza Management Group

Department of Health in England have set up new structures for their pandemic influenza planning. It has at its centre the Pandemic Influenza Management Group ( PIMG) which is made up of senior DH officials. The objectives of this group are to provide leadership, governance and assurance of all the projects and initiatives required to prepare for a flu pandemic. DH has also set up a number of working groups to consider specific issues such as healthcare, community care and surveillance. Scottish Executive officials attend these groups as observers to ensure consistency and communication with health pandemic flu planning in England and Wales.

3.3 Scottish Planning structures

The Scottish Executive Justice Department has overall responsibility for planning the pandemic flu response in Scotland. Centrally, this is done through two main groups, outlined below. Planning in the NHS and community care sector is lead by the Scottish Executive Health Department ( SEHD) through their pandemic flu steering group.

Ministerial Group on Civil Contingencies ( MGCC)

Scottish pandemic flu planning is overseen by the Ministerial Group for Civil Contingencies, a Scottish Cabinet committee which keeps under review the Executive's policy for managing the consequences of major disruptive incidents in Scotland.

Scottish Emergencies Co-ordinating Committee ( SECC)

SECC is the senior official committee involved in the Scottish Executive's emergency response. The Scottish Executive's Pandemic Influenza Preparedness work programme is managed at official level by the Scottish Emergencies Co-coordinating Committee's sub-group for Pandemic Influenza - SECC (Flu). This Group, chaired by a senior official from the Justice Department, brings together policy leads from across the Scottish Executive with representatives of responder organisations.

Health and Community Care Pandemic Influenza Steering Group

The Health and Community Care Pandemic Influenza Steering Group has been established by SEHD to lead the planning process for pandemic influenza across health and community care services in Scotland. Its aim is to set clear strategic and policy direction and will be directly accountable to the Minister for Health and Community Care for progress. It is a partnership between the Scottish Executive and the health and community care services and includes membership from NHS Boards, National Services Scotland, HPS, COSLA and the Association of Directors of Social Work.

Strategic Co-ordinating Groups ( SCGs)

Strategic co-ordinating groups are established in each of the eight police forces in Scotland. They bring together key senior management of category 1 and 2 responders and are responsible for developing business continuity plans for their area and producing SCG multi-agency plans. The SCG is usually chaired by the areas Chief of Police and/or the Local Authority Chief Executive.

3.4 UK response structures

Civil Contingencies Committee ( CCC)

CCC will take the Ministerial lead for the UK response on behalf of the Westminster Cabinet. It will receive advice from the Lead Government Department and the Cabinet Office Briefing Room ( COBR).

Department for Health - Lead Government Department ( LGD)

The Department for Health will be responsible for the overall government response and will be supported by the Cabinet Office Briefing Room ( COBR).

Cabinet Office Briefing Room ( COBR)

COBR will be activated following direction from Senior Officials within the Department for Health. It will comprise groups of senior officails providing advice and information to the Civil Contintencies Committee. Links will be made with the Scottish Execuitve Emergency Room ( SEER).

Scotland Office

When COBR is activated the Scotland Office will represent Scottish interests and be supported by Scottish Executive Officials.

Scottish Executive generic primary response structure for national emergencies

Scottish Executive generic primary response structure for national emergencies

3.5 Scottish response structures

Ministerial Group on Civil Contingencies ( MGCC)

MGCC will take the Ministerial lead for the response in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Cabinet. Its responsibilities will include ensuring that Scottish Executive Departments and other organisations work to meet the overall objectives set by the Government. The MGCC will also take the lead on prioritising the allocation of scare national resources and set the agenda for communicating with the public and media. This committee will be involved in regular dialogue with Ministerial colleagues and officials at UK level to maintain a coherent approach to the emergency response.

Scottish Emergencies Co-ordinating Committee ( SECC)

SECC is the senior official committee involved in the Scottish Executive's emergency response. Its membership during a pandemic will consist of top level managers from affected Scottish Executive departments, and non-executive members drawn from the most senior officers in each of the main responding agencies (the emergency services, local authorities, NHS, Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), military). Its functions include advising the Government on how best to respond to the emergency; setting the strategic direction of the Scottish Executive's response and taking responsibility for long-term recovery issues at a national level.

Scottish Executive Emergency Room ( SEER)

SEER will be activated following direction from Senior Officials within the Health and Justice Department. SEER encompasses all Scottish Executive Departments and acts as a focal point for co-ordination of the response. It performs its role through a number of integrated groups; such as the Emergency Action Team and the Emergency Support Team. It will analyse information received by the SE departments and the Strategic Co-ordinating Groups; provide advice to MGCC and SECC; oversee implementation of decisions taken by MGCC; and, ensure co-ordination of Scottish Executive activity. SEER will also feed information on the Scottish response to the UK Government via COBR.

Scottish Executive Emergency Action Team

Scottish Executive Emergency Action Team is a team of senior Scottish Executive officials who are responsible for ensuring that the emergency response is well co-ordinated and effective. They will provide advice to the MGCC and the SECC on options for handling the consequences of the emergency. They will also be responsible for overseeing implementation of decisions taken by the Government and the SECC.

Scottish Executive Emergency Support Team

The Scottish Executive Emergency Support Team is responsible for gathering, processing and sharing information about the emergency to help senior officials and the Government to make appropriate decisions. This information will be shared with co-ordinating committees across the UK to help inform the joint response.

Strategic Co-ordinating Groups ( SCGs)

Strategic Co-ordinating groups will be mobilised to lead the local response. They will report on local issues direct to SEER.

Scottish Health Emergency Response Team ( SHERT)

The Scottish Health Emergency Response Team will fulfil two functions:

  • co-ordinate the SEHD input into the SE's overall emergency response, including the provision of the SEHD members of the SE emergency arrangements described above.
  • provide additional support to the Department by acting as the "health emergency room". This will allow efficient co-ordination of the SEHD response, providing more detailed health information to SEHD senior management and the Minister for Health & Community Care.

SHERT will work in conjunction with the Emergency Support Team and Emergency Action Team.