2.1 There are a variety of existing but separate arrangements for organising expert advice groups to the strategic co-ordination level in the response to a number of specific types of emergency, e.g., pandemic flu ( PICT/ PIMT); civil nuclear ( HAG/ JHAC); CBRNE ( JHAC); oil and chemical spill (Environment Group).
2.2 This guidance advises:
a) With regard to existing specific emergency response arrangements:
- Use of the generic name " STAC" for a discrete expert advisory group formed under local area arrangements, where use of STAC terminology has not already been advised through the relevant specific UK or Scottish national guidance. This is to consolidate the terminology for any such group and to align with practice elsewhere in the UK.
- Use of the procedures detailed in this guidance on the establishment and running of a STAC. These are provided at Annex B.
b) With regard to SCG area generic response arrangements:
- Arrangements should be made for setting up a generic "core" STAC as a rapid means of providing expert advice where required in any emergency. These arrangements should include 24/7 contact details for core members to enable them to provide advice as early as possible to response co-ordinating groups at a Strategic, Tactical or other level - if necessary, through a "virtual" STAC using telecommunications. The level of co-ordinating group/s activated will depend on the scale and type of emergency involved. These arrangements cover the case where existing specific expert advice arrangements, as in a) above, are not activated.
2.3 Establishing a STAC will be particularly important in a potential or actual emergency situation where there are obvious threats to public health or the wider environment, but also where potential threats may arise, including those which might result from action taken to manage an emergency, e.g. in evacuating people.
2.4 NHS Boards in Scotland have the statutory purposes of "the securing of improved health for people in Scotland and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness"1. Where there are issues of public health to consider, these statutory responsibilities place an onus on the NHS Board to provide a chair, normally the Director of Public Health, for the STAC during the emergency phase in line with current arrangements. The NHS Board should continue to chair the STAC as long as there are significant issues of public health to consider.