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Biological Weapons

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contingency plans his Department has to deal with a (a) chemical and (b) biological attack on the UK; what stockpiles of vaccines there are to protect people against each chemical or biological agent; and if he will make a statement. (209292)

All national health service organisations, classed as Category 1 and 2 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA 2004), have contingency plans in place to meet their responsibilities to ensure the continued delivery of healthcare services when faced with a wide range of disruptive challenges, including incidents involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents.

The Department supports all health service organisations in their contingency planning through the provision of extensive specialist and generic guidance and a national programme of training and exercises designed to test plans and familiarise health service staff with their respective roles and responsibilities during an incident.

The United Kingdom Health Departments have established an extensive stockpile of medical countermeasures and specialist equipment to be used to protect and treat the public in the event of a wide range of possible incidents or attacks. For obvious reasons of security, it would be inappropriate to specify what particular countermeasures are held and where they are located.