Report of the Director of Legal and Governance
Paul Millward, Head of Resilience presented the report on Covid-19 and Emergency planning to the committee. He advised that this report looked only at the existing emergency plans and arrangements at the start of the pandemic and had not been written to assess the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The assessment of the Council’s response is a larger piece of work that is underway and will be reported appropriately in the future. Paul went on to highlight the following points around the existing plans:
(a) Emergency plans are designed to deal with consequences of emergencies.
(b) There was no specific plan in place locally or nationally for a Covid-19 pandemic;
(c) The National Risk Register details pandemic Flu as the number one risk and as such, the risk specialists have trained and exercised a pandemic flu scenario. The Local authority has a Pandemic plan focusing on Council services and staff, and the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has a pandemic Flu plan, detailing how major stakeholders work together. The LRF also had a number of subsidiary plans, such as Excess deaths, humanitarian assistance, communications etc. which were used;
(d) Regular reviews of the plans have been taking place throughout the pandemic to ensure that they are sufficient and cover all aspects. There were a number of small gaps in contingencies, however, these have been identified and plugged. A government task force reviewed the plans and made a number of small recommendations which were implemented;
(e) The report offers the committee assurance that sufficient plans were in place and that emergency planning structures and processes were in place as early as the end of March 2020 within the Council to continue offering essential services to citizens in most need;
During discussion the following points were highlighted.
(e) If a third wave happens the Council has structures and plans in place to ensure that citizens continue to receive services;
(f) In terms of reviews of performance, formal debriefing is likely to begin in June or July dependant on the national situation with reviews taking place after summer as long as a third wave is not occurring or threatening;
(g) Committee members asked that their gratitude for officers and recognition of their hard work be placed on record, in particular the relentless effort and commitment of Paul and his team of emergency planners;
(h) The Local risk register prioritise the work of the team. It is not possible to predict spikes in work but it is possible to manage the small emergency planning team and prioritise work. The resourcing for planned reviews will remain a struggle;
(i) Emergency plans are reviewed in general ever three years by both Nottingham City Council and the LRF. This ensures that plans are up to date and responsive to developing situations;
The Chair commented that everything presented at the meeting offered assurance that plans had been in place as best they could be for such an unprecedented situation.
(1) To confirm assurance that specific and generic plans and arrangements were in place to deal with a pandemic emergency prior to the outbreak of Covid-19
(2) To acknowledge that the early reviews of both the Council’s and the Local Resilience Forum’s (LRF) Pandemic Flu plans showed they provided effective templates for the response phase;
(3) To note that an interim debrief of the response phase was held and arrangements adjusted but that a full debrief is yet to be held whilst the pandemic is ongoing, and
(4) That, on conclusion of any full debrief, the recommendations relevant to the Council be shared with this Committee for consideration