We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

FMD Review (Scotland) 2007

Listen

Chapter 9
Contingency Planning

KEY FINDINGS

9.1 Scotland's FMD Contingency Plan (The Plan) was considered by officials and stakeholders to be effective during the 2007 FMD outbreak. By contrast the key findings from a study into the Plan commissioned as part of this review indicated that it does not meet the fundamental principles required of a national plan for the strategic management of all aspects of a disease outbreak. It must be recognised that the current Plan is part of a wider package of plans which includes the Defra plans, Animal Health agency instructions, the LA plans along with those of the local AHDOs. Consequently the present Scottish Plan is not a stand-alone document nor is it a comprehensive national plan for dealing with FMD.

9.2 The current Plan has worked but needs to be updated in the light of the lessons learned in 2007 and the recommendations made by the separate study. In doing this the Plan must:

  • become an effective national plan for managing all aspects of FMD outbreaks either inside or outside Scotland;
  • adequately support disease control decisions in the context of their wider impact, costs, and benefit linking in with the wider Scottish response;
  • provide a resource for specified users and target audiences with close links to stakeholder plans;
  • incorporate the specific lessons learned in 2007 in relation to pre-planning in order to minimising the impact of movement restrictions and the export ban.

INTRODUCTION

Overview

9.3 As part of this Review the impact of the Plan in 2007 was evaluated along with an assessment of stakeholders' views and perceptions of the efficacy of the Plan. In order to assist with the Review a separate desk top study was commissioned from an independent company, Analytic Red. Their remit was to analyse and evaluate the Plan and prepare a report on its scope, content, layout, relevance, practicality and to identify any gaps.

EU obligations

9.4 The EU Directive 2003/85/ EC requires Member States to draw up a contingency plan which has to be sent the Commission for approval. The detailed criteria and requirements for the plan are contained in an annex to the Directive. Plans have to be modified in the light of the lessons learned from either outbreaks or real time exercises run to test the plan. In any event Member States are required to review and update the plan every 5 years and submit it to the Commission for approval. The objective of the plan is to specify the national (Member State) measures required;

  • to maintain a high level of FMD awareness and preparedness and environmental protection;
  • to be implemented in the event of an FMD outbreak;
  • to be implemented in the case of a worst case scenario which is defined in the annex to the Directive.

9.5 In order to meet the UK Member State obligations Defra produced the Framework Response Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases and The Overview of Emergency Responses for Exotic Diseases. Defra's remit not only covers England but also UK and EU/international responsibilities and the Animal Health agency GB responsibilities. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each produced their own separate contingency plans which are submitted together with the Defra plan to the Commission as a composite for the UK national plan.

Scotland's FMD Contingency Plan

9.6 The need for detailed contingency plans capable of dealing with worst case scenarios was demonstrated during the 2001 outbreak. The outcome of the inquiries following that outbreak, whilst accepting that contingency plans had existed, made it clear that much work was needed in terms of contingency planning and increased stakeholder involvement. The Scottish Executive published a draft contingency plan in 2002 which went for consultation before it was finalised. Since then, the Plan has been updated twice off the back of light touch consultations. Stakeholder meetings are used to remind people to feed in their comments and a dedicated mailbox is available for comments. The quarterly stakeholder meetings can be used to discuss any changes.

9.7 The current Plan was dated October 2005 but since then did not appear to have been formally updated to incorporate the recommendations from the review of the Communications Strategy or the lesson learned from the avian influenza and Newcastle disease outbreaks. Lessons learned exercises have not in the past been published as many of the issues identified were internal to Scottish Government and had no direct impact on industry. A number of the lessons learned were incorporated into the departmental desk instructions. The disease outbreaks delayed proposed work to update the Plan until July 2007 when an internal Scottish Government post was made available to focus on contingency planning work. This was superseded by events in August 2007.

REVIEW OF RESPONSE IN 2007

Scottish Government response

9.8 As specified in the Plan, the DSG and the FMD Stakeholder Group met as quickly as possible after FMD was confirmed in Surrey. The DSG met daily throughout the outbreak and considered a wide range of issues but at times became too focused on media handling. The role of the DSG is a strategic one with a need to discuss the priorities of the day whilst specifics should be dealt with in separate forums. It was noted that a revised agenda was used for the DSG meetings and this should be incorporated into the Plan. Membership of the DSG did not include as routine two of the operational partners. In future COSLA and MHS should be represented at the daily DSG.

9.9 No formal sub-committees were set up as suggested might be done in the Plan but an Economic Impact Group was established with a light touch with work undertaken by Scottish Government economists drawing on expertise from QMS. Setting up an economic impact sub-group may have been helpful. An economist's assessment of the problem and associated controls could have been used to balance advice from CVO Scotland. The Scottish Cabinet Sub-Committee on Civil Contingencies ( CSC- SEER) was not called, but this is not an automatic response and will only be called when appropriate.

9.10 The Plan is about process and structure and was considered by Scottish officials to be appropriate and relevant in responding to the 2007 outbreak. A number of gaps were identified especially as the Plan was based around dealing with active disease in Scotland. It was also noted during the review that no Scotland-wide real time exercises had been held to test the Plan.

Civil Contingencies Unit ( CCU) Scotland (now Scottish Resilience)

9.11 The role of CCU Scotland is to co-ordinate the corporate response of the Scottish Government to any major emergency. This is a dual role which requires increasing levels of preparedness and management of the government response and an understanding of the interface between the activity of government and the role of local emergency responders and stakeholders in managing the consequences of any significant event. The CCU will support the development of particular contingency plans and espouses the concept of an integrated approach to emergency response. The sector specific detail for individual plans will be for the relevant directorate within the Scottish Government to decide but such detailed plans must be consistent with the generic co-ordination arrangements that apply to the government's corporate response to any emergency.

9.12 During the FMD outbreaks of 2007, CCU's role was limited as the disease incursion was in South East England and did not bring with it wider consequences with significant impact e.g. impact on tourism, community issues, and economic impact. In the event of such wider consequences arising, CCU would co-ordinate by bringing all the relevant policy experts together to consider the corporate response of government. This could be at Ministerial level as well as official level similar to the activity of COBR but for the devolved aspects. If the outbreak was sufficiently serious, CSC- SEER would be convened.

9.13 There is an important distinction to be made between fighting disease and managing the wider consequences. AHW policy division ( AHWD) of the Rural Directorate in the Scottish Government very much leads on the former and CCU would manage the latter as necessary. It is worth noting that AHWD is one of the few areas within Scottish Government where decisions taken by officials directly affect the management and control of local respondees. CCU is strongly of the view that the disease control and wider consequence management functions require to be closely integrated between AHWD and CCU.

9.14 CCU monitors for any potential wider implications of the disease control measures. It is recognised that the consequential effects of disease might go on for some time and that there is a resilience issue in terms of resource when dealing with FMD. There needs to be clarity over the point at which CCU would become involved in a co-ordinating role in supporting the response to disease.

Stakeholder views

9.15 The Plan was acceptable to stakeholders who confirmed that they had been fully consulted with the opportunity to comment on the draft before it was published in 2005. Overall the processes contained in the Plan appeared to stakeholders to have worked satisfactorily during the FMD outbreak. Comments were made that the Plan should be updated regularly with a formal review every three to five years with updates made and agreed in-between as required. Stakeholders should be consulted regularly about any changes proposed by the Scottish Government. Opinions were divided on the question of whether the Plan should be put to the Scottish Parliament for formal agreement each time it was reviewed.

9.16 Whether there should be a generic plan for all diseases or a single plan for separate diseases was debated. Stakeholders were split on the issue but a small majority would prefer a separate plan for each disease as they considered it would be easier to use in the event of an outbreak.

9.17 The Plan should not only address disease control aspects but also the difficulties likely to be experienced throughout the supply chain not only by farmers but by the other organisations involved. Trade issues need to be covered in the Plan and product certification should be available immediately to avoid delays in resuming exports of permitted products. It is important to consult with trade representatives as well as farmers when preparing for and dealing with disease outbreaks. While the initial focus is on the control of disease, trade issues and consumer messages soon become vital.

9.18 An FMD outbreak has serious implications for all stakeholders as well as government. It is important for all those involved throughout the supply chain to consider the implications of an FMD outbreak on their business and where appropriate to develop their own contingency plans. Markets have contingency plans for dealing with disease, irrespective of the type of disease. Farmers should have some idea of how to deal with disease situations although it is impractical to expect farmers to have their own detailed contingency plans.

9.19 Farmers need to buy into the Plan, which should include details for them on biosecurity and fallen stock. It is best practice for farmers to think about how they might deal with disease but it will be important not to add to the levels of bureaucracy already present. From the point of view of farmers, they already have a number of systems in place such as farm assurance requirements, herd health plans and biosecurity codes. The Livestock Quality Assurance standards in Scotland have already had the effect of implementing generic Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points on all QMS Producer members. This may be a route which could be explored to include more detail on biosecurity and dealing with fallen stock. Another option would be for the Scottish Government and the industry to develop generic contingency plans which could be made available to farmers.

Lessons learned

9.20 The Plan was immeasurably better than in 2001 due to lessons learned. The structures were basically sound with DSG working well. The Plan did not envisage dealing with the consequences of an FMD outbreak around 500 kilometres away and outside of Scotland. It was also probably predicated too much on events during 2001.

9.21 The focus of the Plan should be on government actions so some separate guidance for delivery partners, mapping out the expectations of them, might be the best way to ensure that they are aware of their potential roles and responsibilities. Contingency planning is perceived as being for government, and industry maybe need to think a bit more about how they interlink with these arrangements. In terms of guiding the response the Plan appeared to work well.

9.22 The Plan itself dealt with processes and procedures to control FMD and eliminate the virus. It had not been constructed to deal with a whole range of other issues which arose during the course of the outbreak. These have been discussed elsewhere in this report but are summarised below. With hindsight it is easy to identify the areas which need to be covered either in the contingency plan or elsewhere. These include:

  • a clear statement of the strategic objectives of the Governments response;
  • clear protocols and procedures for allowing movements after the introduction of the national movement ban;
  • prepared up-to-date risk assessments to be available;
  • draft movement licences for use as the ban is relaxed to be readily available;
  • the trigger points for the derogation of driver's hours specified and the information required by DfT to consider such a derogation;
  • the implications of the movement ban on the industry and the impact on animal welfare considered, measured or catered for in the Plan.

9.23 The Plan should recognise the potential for wider consequences of an outbreak anywhere in GB and must be integrated into the overall Scottish response for dealing with emergencies. The impact on the whole of the supply chain must be taken into account and where appropriate all aspects should be reflected in the Plan. There must be good co-ordination with CCU and other interested policy areas. CCU and AHWD should work together to achieve a shared understanding of when CCU should be notified of an animal disease outbreak or potential outbreak.

9.24 The plan must be updated regularly in order to include lessons learned from outbreaks, the latest scientific developments, the lessons learned from exercises and changes in legislation. Contingency Planning should be a standing agenda item at AHW Stakeholder Group meetings at least once a year. Any proposed changes or amendments should be passed to stakeholders for comment and agreement. A formal review should take place every 3 years and the revised Plan be made available for full consultation.

Recommendation 53: Procedures should be put in place to ensure regular updating of the FMD Contingency Plan in consultation with all stakeholders with a formal review at least every 3-5 years. (Medium Priority)

INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF SCOTLAND'S FMD CONTINGENCY PLAN

Background

9.25 Analytic Red, a private consultancy, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake a review of the Plan. The study specifically aimed to:

  • evaluate if the plan provides sufficient information to facilitate an effective response to an FMD incursion in GB;
  • analyse if the Plan is suitable for leading a response to a disease outbreak in Scotland;
  • identify the steps to take in the event of an FMD incursion elsewhere, specifically in relation to the identification of animals arriving from infected countries prior to confirmation of disease.

It was conditional that their report would be published alongside this report and that their recommendations would be included in the body of this report.

Report from Analytic Red

9.26 The key finding in the report from Analytic Red is that " Scotland's FMD contingency plan does not meet the fundamental principles required of a national plan for the strategic management of all aspects of a disease outbreak". In reaching this conclusion a needs analysis was undertaken which considered some of the main drivers that the Plan would need to anticipate. The analysis and evaluation of the plan was based on detailed evidence and came to three key judgements that:

  • the Plan fails to meet the fundamental principles of a national plan;
  • the Plan is opaque, confused and incoherent with no logic or structure to it;
  • the Plan is not a plan and mixes briefing material, policy guidance, forms and technical assessments.

9.27 The Analytic Red considers that the main basis for these failings is a lack of fundamental elements in particular the absence of Strategic Objectives and Planning Assumptions in the plan. They identify four implicit strategic objectives:

  • deliver EU "Stamping-Out" Policy for infected or dangerous contacts to return to infection free state;
  • respond immediately to all aspects of an FMD outbreak;
  • manage a widespread or limited outbreak of FMD;
  • ensure Scottish Governments priorities are effectively represented at Whitehall.

Conclusions and recommendations by Analytic Red

9.28 The three main conclusions and eight key recommendations made by the Analytic Red are shown in Table 12 below. A number of other recommendations are also contained in the body of the report.

Table 12
Analytic Red Recommendations

Recommendation number

Conclusions and Recommendation

Conclusion 1

The Plan is not an effective national plan for managing all aspects of an FMD outbreak.

1

The Plan should be rewritten as a national plan for the strategic management of FMD outbreaks

2

The Plan should be based on Strategic Priorities and Planning Assumptions

3

The Plan should regard an outbreak of FMD as a crisis and focus the national response around Scotland's crisis machinery

4

The refined Plan should be co-operatively designed and robustly tested with all disease control and wider impact stakeholders

5

The Plan should incorporate work undertaken following acceptance of the recommendations from previous FMD inquiries, review and recommendations.

6

The Plan should be benchmarked against the requirements of international and domestic legislation amongst other drivers

Conclusion 2

The Plan does not adequately support disease control decisions in the context of wider considerations of impact, cost and benefit

7

Future versions of the Plan must support decision-making that simultaneously considers disease control option against wider impacts

Conclusion 3

The Plan is not a resource for specified users or target audiences.

8

Future versions of the Plan are a resource for users and target audiences both within and out with the Scottish Government.

Source: Analytic Red (2008). Independent Analysis and Evaluation of Scotland's FMD Contingency Plan.

9.29 Analytic Red considers that with focused effort the Plan could become effective and indicates in the report that this can be achieved by drawing on:

  • work undertaken following the then Scottish Executive's acceptance of the findings of a number of inquiries, consultations and reviews around previous FMD outbreaks;
  • the knowledge and experience held by those consulted as part of this project;
  • a needs analysis of the key users of and target audiences for the Plan;
  • civil contingencies planning expertise elsewhere in the Scottish Executive and UK.

Conclusions

9.30 Analytic Red have conducted a detailed review and identified a series of major issues with respect to the Plan. Their conclusions and recommendations are comprehensive and should be considered carefully as a way of making the Plan more robust and fit for purpose. A number of issues raised in their report are also considered in the context of GB controls especially with the increased Ministerial involvement by the Scottish Government.

Recommendation 54: The Scottish Government's FMD Contingency Plan must be updated urgently to ensure it is fit for purpose and to take account of the lessons learned from this review and to incorporate the 8 key recommendations from the independent report by Analytic Red. (High Priority)

IMPLICATIONS FOR CONTROL IN GB IF FMD OCCURRED IN SCOTLAND

9.31 The Defra Framework Response plan for Exotic Animal Diseases clearly indicates that Defra takes the lead in planning and responding to outbreaks of FMD in England. The Defra plan is complemented by the separate contingency plans in Scotland and Wales. In the event of an outbreak there would be close liaison between the three countries. However in the event of an outbreak in Scotland the Defra plan is clear that Scotland's DSG will be convened and will be responsible for supervising the handling of the Scottish outbreak.

9.32 In Scotland disease would be confirmed by Scottish Ministers on the advice of the CVO Scotland although all the reporting of suspicion of disease will be made by the Divisional Veterinary Manager to the relevant group in Defra. The policy would be decided by the Scottish Government but the information and evidence on which to formulate the policy would be provided mainly by Animal Health agency, the National Emergency Epidemiology Group and the UKNEG all of which are funded and provided by Defra.

9.33 The implementation of the Scottish Government policy would be carried out by the Animal Health agency and the MHS both of which would be funded by Defra to undertake disease control. An NDCC would be set up by the Animal Health agency in London with the operational teams in effect providing a service to Scotland. Whilst the NDCC would normally be responsible for policy and operations for England under the control of the CVOUK it is assumed that the NDCC in the event of an outbreak in Scotland would only provide logistical support to the Scottish operation although who would have overall control of the NDCC in these circumstances is unclear as the responsibility for the operational activities in Scotland would lie with the Scottish Government.

9.34 The contingency plans make little or no mention of where funding would be obtained and rely on the agreements in the Defra/Scottish Government Concordats. These arrangements require goodwill on all sides. During outbreaks the Scottish Government would clearly want to demonstrate that they were effectively dealing with the situation. Potential problems could occur if the Scottish Government wished to pursue a specific course of action with which Defra Ministers disagreed. As Defra holds the funding for implementation there could be problems if no mechanism is in place to resolve these kinds of issues.

Lessons learned

9.35 Scotland's FMD Contingency Plan was not developed as a stand alone plan but more as an integral part of the Defra plan. This means that Scotland relies on Defra for much of the planning arrangements and for the provision of resources to implement the policy. The relationship between the Plan and arrangements elsewhere in GB is fundamental to the way in which the Plan should be developed. There is no clarity on the way in which the plans will interface and who would be responsible for which actions in the event of an outbreak in Scotland. This needs to be urgently investigated to provide clarity of where operational responsibility, funding and other activities will lie and who would resolve disputes over policy and operational issues.

Recommendation 55: The Scottish Government and Defra should work together to develop an overarching contingency plan which identifies the GB responsibilities and separates these from the specific England component of the current Defra plan. The mechanisms for the implementation of Scottish policy in the event of an outbreak in Scotland must be clearly specified as should the support to be provided by Defra and the funding available. (High Priority)