The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 ('the Act'), which came into force in April 2005, provides a basic framework defining what tasks should be performed and how cooperation should be conducted in the event of a civil emergency. The Act applies to the whole of the UK and there are regional variations for each country and for London.
Organisations with primary responsibility for planning and implementing emergency measures are classed as Category 1 organisations, which are defined as:
General practices are not classified within Category 1, but they may be included in emergency plans set out by their local PCO or health authority.
There is no requirement for general practices to take any specific action with respect to the Act, other than by responding to information requests from their local PCO or health authority.
However, practices should nevertheless have a plan which sets out what is to be done in the event of any unexpected disaster, incident or failure which has the potential to de-stabilise the practice and impact on the short, medium or long term running of the practice. Such a plan may be called a Continuity Plan (but may also be known as a Disaster Plan, a Recovery Plan, a Contingency Plan). Creating a Continuity Plan involves identifying all the risks (i.e. the occurrences which can cause disruption) and setting out what actions should be taken for each circumstance. Practices which have a Continuity Plan are likely to be able to better respond to any request from the PCO with regard to the Civil Contingencies Act.
Subscribers to the members section of the FPM website can access a toolkit designed to help practices develop their continuity plans. The toolkit offers a step-by-step guide and template plan. The Continuity Planning Toolkit is located in the toolkits section of the FPM website. If you are not a member, have a look at the information about the benefits of membership and how to subscribe.