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Civil Contingencies

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional expenditure over and above that identified prior to 1 April 2002 (a) was spent in 2002–03 and (b) will be spent in 2003–04 on national and regional resilience work for (i) essential services, (ii) treatment of mass casualties and (iii) treatment of infectious disease; whether arrangements exist to release expenditure during the current financial year for resilience projects under consideration for (A) essential services, (B) treatment of mass casualties and (C) treatment of infectious disease; and if he will make a statement. [113928]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The Government's Civil Contingencies Capabilities Programme has identified broad areas of activity under which Departments group specific projects, activity and programme expenditure. The purpose is to deliver broad generic capabilities which allow the United Kingdom to respond effectively to a wide range of disruptive challenges.In 2002–03 the Department of Health allocated some £85 million to strengthen national and regional resilience to ensure that the national health service is prepared and equipped to meet the demands of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological threats to the public. This figure is £69 million over and above the £16 million spent in 2001–02. Through this funding, medical countermeasures, including vaccines, antibiotics, antidotes and respiratory support equipment, and personal protective equipment are now in place in the NHS. Although it is not possible to apportion specific expenditure to each area, this funding has served to strengthen overall capability and resilience to threats to essential services, the treatment of mass casualties and the treatment of infectious disease. For 2003–04, the Department of Health has allocated £98.5 million to this on-going programme of work, which is £82.5 million over and above the 16 million spent in 2001–02.The capabilities that we are working to deliver have been developed to allow the Government to deal with the fullest range of scenarios. Should a specific additional urgent operational need arise, at any point of the spending cycle, action would be taken to meet it. The public expenditure framework the Government have put in place provides the flexibility to deal with unexpected pressures.