26 May 2015
Healthcare emergency planning needs to be more resilient to cope with major hazards, new research reveals
Healthcare emergency planning in the UK must be tougher if it is to withstand extreme situations such as floods and heavy snowfall, new research from Loughborough University reveals.
Researchers from the University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering explored the challenges and opportunities UK healthcare emergency planners and responders have been faced with in emergency situations.
The research team initially sought to identify the history of emergency planning in the UK with a specific focus on healthcare. They then organised an international workshop with professionals across a range of disciplines and sectors and conducted in-depth interviews with experts in social science, healthcare management, utility supply and emergency planning and co-ordination.
The research revealed the following key issues associated with emergency planning in the UK:
- Risk identification – risk matrices are simple and easy tools to help identify risks; however, their limitations could potentially lead to flawed plans. The researchers recommend using more scientific approaches to identify risks based on continuous monitoring and mathematical constructs
- Multi-agency collaboration – a lack of communication between agencies becomes a barrier to effective multi-agency collaboration
- Budget constraints – pressure from the current financial climate has resulted in reduced budgets for emergency planning. This can increase the risk of inadequate planning, a risk which is unlikely to be omitted but which could be mitigated by pooling resources across the multi-agency response teams
- Infrastructure performance – for many years, investment in UK infrastructure, such as the sewage system, was not seen as a priority. This caused the infrastructure to become vulnerable and unable to cope with extreme events. The researchers recommend conducting a vulnerability assessment that feeds into the planning process as a ‘temporary’ solution until infrastructure is upgraded
- Administration of emergency planning – knowledge from individuals and groups is easily lost
- The role of independent advice – emergency planners do not sufficiently utilise the independent expertise that is available to them.
Read the press release for more information.