Healthcare emergency planning and management to major hazards in the UK

In response to the financial climate, the UK healthcare system is undergoing major restructuration in which many organisations are ‘disappearing’ or re-integrating to create new organisations. These will play a role in the delivery of healthcare in major emergencies. This study aims to examine the challenges and opportunities that the UK healthcare emergency planners and responders have in coping with major hazards. The study followed a qualitative research methodology where data was collected from a comprehensive literature review, an international workshop and interviews. The findings established that the UK healthcare emergency planning process needs to: consider the integration of soft and hard resources (e.g. processes, staff and infrastructure) in planning; involve independent experts (e.g. academics) for further support; and use IT systems innovatively to develop a comprehensive emergency model, predict vulnerabilities and optimise effectiveness and efficiency. The major recommendations are to: identify and evaluate risks more accurately; enhance opportunities and reduce risks associated with multi-agency approaches; ensure that soft and hard resources are well integrated in planning; involve and integrate more with independent parties such as academia for extra support; and innovatively use IT systems to develop a comprehensive emergency model, predict vulnerabilities and optimise effectiveness and efficiency.