Emergency preparedness in health care project

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Prof Duncan Shaw from the Aston CRISIS Centre is pleased to be collaborating on a new project with Prof Simon French from Manchester Business School and Russell King from Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust.

The 21st century, despite being barely a decade old, has seen substantial changes in the way in which the UK and other countries plan for and manage emergencies. Iconic events such as the terrorist outrages of 9/11 and 7/7, challenges arising from climate change, from potential pandemics, and from failures arising from the ever increasing complexity of society have focused attention on the need to be prepared for major events that have outcomes across all domains including almost inevitably health care. Aside from changes in the pattern, type and scale of emergency, in the case of health care there is a continual development of triaging criteria and treatment regimes as medical knowledge and skills advance. This is true both in respect of the treatment of severe trauma and of disease outbreaks and pandemics. Thus there are continual pressures to reflect upon, evaluate and improve emergency planning, response and recovery and there is a well recognised need for a systematic review of current practice, past events, practice outside the UK and the academic literature to identify gaps in current knowledge and possible changes to practice in emergency planning and management. This project addresses that need.

The project, co-ordinated by Manchester Business School, brings together a strong team led by two academics (one from the Aston CRISIS Centre) who have much experience worldwide in emergency planning, management and recovery worldwide, together with the chair of the Greater Manchester Acute Trust Emergency Planners; i.e. it links theory and practice. We are supported by an advisory group bringing together expertise from national, regional and local bodies concerned with emergency planning in health care and academic and research expertise in the UK and Europe.

The overall aims of the project are to conduct a state of the art review of emergency preparedness in health care, drawing in learning and experiences from local, regional, national and international contexts, particularly in health care but extending into other forms of crisis. The review will identify where there may be a need for change and/or to develop new approaches and practices. It will produce a prioritised research and development agenda for addressing these. The perspectives and needs of a wide range of stakeholders will be drawn into the analysis.

The project, which will last 12 months, will
* conduct a systematic literature review covering both academic research and professional practice;
* conduct a range of interviews to gather a variety of relevant perspectives;
* examine documentary evidence gathered in debriefing several past events;
* identify and explore in much greater depth responses to 3 or 4 major events and issues, building detailed case studies;
* analyse all these to identify a list of potential gaps and R&D needs;
* run a prioritisation workshop to rank these in importance.

Our reports will be published widely in all appropriate literatures covering professional practice and acedemic research. We welcome enquiries, comments and suggestions from stakeholders and the public throughout the project and on the final reports.