Preparing for Emergencies- Guidance For Health Boards in Scotland

The document provides strategic guidance for Health Board Chief Executives and NHS Senior Managers on fulfilling their obligations under the Civil Contingencies 2004 and other key legislation underpinning emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

Section 3 Legislation

This section highlights the designation of particular Health Boards as category 1 and category 2 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. It also highlights key issues in relation to ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the NHS

3.1 The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA) and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 provide the primary legislative framework for resilience and civil contingencies matters in Scotland. The CCA divides responder organisations into two categories, depending on the extent of their involvement in civil protection work, and places a proportionate set of responsibilities on each. In relation to NHSScotland,

Category 1 responders are those organisations at the core of emergency response and they are subject to the full set of civil protection duties. They include:

All Territorial Health Boards, and

The Scottish Ambulance Service (a Special Board)

Category 2 responder organisations are cooperating bodies that have lesser obligations placed on them by the CCA than category 1 responders. Primarily their role is to cooperate with, support and share relevant information with category 1 responders. They should be engaged in discussions where they can add value and they must respond to all reasonable requests. They include:

NHS National Services Scotland (a Special Board)

3.2 It is good practice for non-designated Health Boards to ensure that they can comply with the requirements of the CCA, identify how they can support the category 1 and 2 responders and use this guidance to ensure they have the necessary business continuity and emergency plans in place to deal with potential service disruptions or major incidents.

3.3 Other legislation is identified in later sections of this document that must be taken into account by Health Boards in civil contingencies/resilience planning.

Equality and diversity

3.4 Equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, while diversity recognises and values difference in its broadest sense. In developing emergency preparedness plans, Health Boards must be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010[3]. The Equality Duty requires public bodies to consider the needs of all individuals when developing policy, delivering services and in relation to employees. It encourages public bodies to understand how different people will be affected by their activities so that services are appropriate and accessible to all and meet different people's needs. See Preparing for Emergencies Guidance for Health Boards in Scotland Annex: Equalities, Human Rights and Resilience Planning.

Human rights

3.5 In addition to complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty (see Preparing for Emergencies Annex: Equalities, Human Rights and Resilience Planning), Health Boards must uphold the UK Human Rights Act (1998) in delivering services which requires that account is taken of a range of factors including the dignity of individuals receiving treatment; end of life considerations; prioritisation of treatments and transparency in relation to decision-making as well as an individual's preferences.

3.6 The primary consideration of all agencies involved in a major incident/civil emergency is the preservation of life. This is also the core of Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which states that 'everyone's right to life shall be protected by law'.

3.7 Health Boards must undertake an appropriate level of impact assessment (see Preparing for Emergencies Guidance for Health Boards in Scotland Annex: Equalities, Human Rights and Resilience Planning) of their emergency preparedness plans and protocols to ensure that they do not negatively affect particular populations, thus perpetuating existing inequalities.

3.8 If for any reason, there is a necessity to restrict any Human Right in an emergency situation, such as freedom of movement or freedom of assembly, this should be proportionate and only for the minimum duration possible. The reason for such a decision being taken should be communicated to the people affected by it and accurately recorded.


Email: NHSScotland Resilience Unit

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