Health Matters: Preparing for an emergency

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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This month I would like to talk about being prepared for emergencies and business continuity.

Like all mainstream businesses, healthcare has a statutory requirement to be able to deliver a service in times of emergency and crisis.

To facilitate this, all our services have “business continuity” plans and as a trust, Lincolnshire Community Health Services (LCHS) participates in emergency scenarios along with other health and social care providers to test our plans and the way in which we deal with emergencies.

These scenarios could be anything from a significant road or rail crash (LCHS provides support to the acute hospitals), to severe weather, flooding or an infectious disease.

Business Continuity Management is a proactive approach that ensures the ability to react to disruptions whilst protecting the safety of staff, patients and visitors.

It concentrates on everything needed to continue critical functions such as patient care when something goes wrong. It focuses on the effects and not the cause of the disruption. LCHS has such plans in place for all services.

This year a large multi organisational exercise was undertaken called ‘Exercise Georgiana’ which involved a simulated train crash.

This involved a rail company and British transport Police, over 400 members of the Lincolnshire Emergency Services, health, voluntary services and Environment Agencies to name but a few.

The exercise was named after Georgiana Baguley one of the victims of the county’s largest ever rail disaster in 1906 caused when the Scotch Express from King’s Cross left the rails and smashed through a parapet above a residential street in Grantham. The disaster claimed 14 lives.

This exercise provided an invaluable opportunity to learn lessons about partnership working. The exercise used a combination of testing control rooms and ’field exercises’, with a very realistic set used for the exercise at the Urban Search and Rescue site at Waddington, together with the set-up of a Survivor Reception Centre in the village of Claypole, where the accident scenario was set.

The public were involved throughout the exercise, playing train crash victims both at the Waddington and Claypole sites. The village of Claypole was involved with the exercise and the local school visited the Survivor Reception Centre.

Planning is a continuous process and currently the plans for flu are being reviewed and flu vaccinations being undertaken.

Flu remains the highest risk on both the local and national risk registers. Flu is unpredictable and LCHS works with other health providers ensuring the public, patients and staff are vaccinated. Our front line staff are vaccinated, which is an important way of preventing patients getting flu. Immunisation against flu significantly lowers rates of flu like illness and mortality in those people who are most at risk.

Hopefully this will demonstrate that as well as looking after the “here and now” LCHS also looks forward to ensure we can continue to provide a service to the community whatever situation we find ourselves in.