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Influenza

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the roles are of (a) local and (b) regional resilience forums in preparations for an influenza pandemic. (283843)

I have been asked to reply.

Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) are the principal mechanism for the coordination of multi-agency planning at local level. Membership includes all Category 1 responders (such as emergency services, local authorities and health bodies) which are subject to a range of civil protection duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. As such, LRFs are responsible for planning for the multi-agency management of an influenza pandemic at local level, working closely with primary care trusts.

Regional Resilience Forums (RRFs) allow key responders to plan together and improve the coordination and flow of information across and between regions and the centre. In preparation for wide-scale civil emergencies such as an influenza pandemic, RRFs would work closely with strategic health authorities to provide an information channel between central Government planning and local tiers, identify issues that cannot be resolved locally and provide appropriate feedback.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which public bodies are responsible for overseeing the preparations made by local authorities for an influenza pandemic. (283884)

I have been asked to reply.

The Audit Commission is responsible for monitoring the performance of local authorities. This includes ensuring that they meet their statutory requirements of which preparing for emergencies is one. (The Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) 2004, requires local authorities to assess the risk of emergencies occurring and to maintain plans for managing these risks.)

The Audit Commission works with partner inspectorates (i.e. HM Inspectorate for Constabularies, the Care Quality Inspectorate, HM Inspectorate of Prisons; HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted) to assess the performance of local services in England through the Comprehensive Area Assessment. For those organisations that are inspected both sector specific and multi-agency performance is assessed. This includes assessment against National Indicator 37, which assesses how aware the general public are of what to do in the event of an emergency.

The CCA Implementation team, within the Civil Contingencies Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, is responsible for running a CCA performance development and compliance work stream. An ‘Expectation and Indicators of Good Practice Set for Category 1 and 2 Responders’ has been published which sets out what is expected of those responsible for preparing for emergencies (including local authorities) and outlines mandatory requirements. This can be accessed through the United Kingdom resilience pages of the Cabinet Office website at:

www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/ukresilience/publications.aspx