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Chemical Attacks (Preparations)

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on conclusions drawn by NHS trusts from exercises in response to a chemical, biological or radiological incident since 11 September 2001. [104161]

All national health service trusts have major incident plans in place and there are regular exercises to test these plans. Chemical, biological radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents are now considered at every planning meeting between Health Emergency Planning Advisers (HEPAs) and NHS trusts and are a significant focus of all NHS emergency planning development.The emergency response division of the HPA has introduced a system to record centrally all exercises undertaken in the NHS and will be disseminating lessons learned. NHS trusts have, since 11 September 2001, been provided with greater amounts of improved personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination equipment. Training for dealing with CBRN incidents is also being urgently rolled out. NHS trusts have been working with local HEPAs to assess their capability to respond to CBRN incidents and lessons learned from these assessments are being implemented.The HPA is also working with NHS trusts to improve emergency preparedness, particularly through a much expanded programme of exercises. Training needs are being identified and targeted training is being delivered. Consideration is also being given to staff turnover and the need for a programme of continuous training to be offered. Work being taken forward under the New Dimensions Project will also engage NHS trusts in a more integrated emergency response to CBRN threats together with other partner agencies.