3. Command and control structures
3.1. Strategic response
Scottish Ministers have a legal responsibility to control notifiable animal diseases in Scotland. Strategic direction during an outbreak is provided by the Scottish Government through the Disease Strategy Group (DSG). APHA is the lead partner organisation responsible for dealing with the operational response to an outbreak and will initiate the local response on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR)
If necessary, the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) will be activated to co-ordinate the response required to manage the wider consequences of an outbreak.
3.2. Tactical and operational response
3.2.1. National Disease Control Centre (NDCC)
Upon confirmation of disease, APHA will establish a National Disease Control Centre (NDCC) to command, control and co-ordinate the tactical response for those involved in controlling the disease at an operational level. Where disease crosses administrative boundaries, the NDCC will co-ordinate APHA activities across GB.
Depending on the disease in question and the scale and severity of the outbreak, the NDCC may include representation from operational partners, Other Government Departments (OGDs) and stakeholder groups.
3.2.2. Central Disease Control Centre (CDCC)
Upon confirmation of an exotic notifiable disease in Scotland, APHA will establish a Central Disease Control Centre (CDCC). The CDCC is a virtual structure that manages and co-ordinates the operational response. The CDCC may convene in Saughton House, Edinburgh, or elsewhere if appropriate. It can also be located across multiple sites where necessary. APHA's Head of Field Delivery Scotland (HoFDS) will become the Outbreak Director for Scotland to provide leadership and direction for the CDCC. For cross-boundary outbreaks it will be headed up by APHA's Service Delivery Director.
3.2.3. Forward Operating Base (FOB)
APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland will direct the establishment of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) close to the outbreak to:
- implement the disease control operation
- liaise with local operational partners and stakeholders
- provide an operational base for teams that are involved in patrolling, surveillance and field operations activities
Depending on the nature of an outbreak, further FOBs may be established.
In order to manage the disease outbreak, meetings and reports that take place across the command and control structures adhere to a pre-determined schedule (known as a "battle rhythm"). The exact battle rhythm followed will depend on a number of factors including the circumstance of the disease, stage of the outbreak and affected area. Appendix G details the main meetings held and reports compiled.
3.2.5. Bird table meetings
Bird table meetings take place at the tactical (NDCC) and operational (FOB) levels and are conducted to:
- provide a structure for the management of the disease outbreak by meeting regularly
- facilitate the effective management of the outbreak by ensuring communication between all policy, operational, and communications functions involved
- provide brief situation reports on all aspects of the operation to those concerned in its management, which may include operational partners and external stakeholders
- to encourage a coordinated and cooperative response
- identify key emerging issues and allocate responsibility for resolving them and reporting back
The participants at the meetings will be from all the areas involved in the management of the disease control operation, including operational partners and invited stakeholders.
3.2.6. NDCC bird table
Each of the key operational partners will have a representative at NDCC bird table. To ensure rapid decision making, this should be a senior officer involved in the outbreak (teleconference facilities will be made available for those unable to attend in person). Representatives should be agreed in advance of an outbreak with names of nominated deputies also provided to cover annual leave and sick absences. NDCC bird table meetings will typically require the participation of the following operational partners:
- Police Scotland
- Local Authority representative(s)
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- Public Health Scotland (PHS)
- Food Standards Scotland (FSS)
In the event of disease confirmation (less likely on suspicion) in Scotland, APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland will arrange for APHA's Communications Team to contact the appropriate representatives relevant to the disease in question to arrange the first meeting. Representatives may need to be contacted out of normal working hours or at weekends. NDCC bird table meetings will normally take place three times a day during the initial phase of the disease response, but probably less frequently in later phases.
3.2.7. FOB bird table meetings
The participants at the FOB bird table meetings will be from all the areas involved in the management of the disease control operation, including operational partners and invited stakeholders.
The issues reported on will include an update on current disease status and control measures, situation reports from team managers, updates from stakeholders and operational partners, a review of outstanding actions from previous bird tables, the battle rhythm and housekeeping issues.
FOB bird table participants will normally include the following:
- APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland – Chair (APHA)
- Scotland Veterinary Lead (APHA)
- FOB Manager (APHA Delivery Team leader)
- CDCC Manager (APHA)
- CDCC Finance Manager (APHA)
- APHA Communications
- APHA Resilience Lead
- Scottish Government Communications Liaison Officer
- Scottish Government Principal Agricultural Officer
- Local Authority(ies) Liaison Officer
- Local Authority(ies) Resilience Advisers
- Police Scotland Liaison Officer
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- RRP Coordinator
- Consultant (or consultants) in Public Health Medicine (CPH(M))
- Public Health Scotland (PHS)
Other organisations may be invited to participate as the need arises. In circumstances where public or human health is impacted or at risk, representatives from the relevant NHS Board and Public Health Scotland will be invited to participate.
Issues raised by operational partners at the FOB bird table meetings will, if appropriate, be escalated by APHA's Outbreak Director/Veterinary Lead Scotland (VLS) through the CDCC Tactical - Operational Management teleconference.
3.2.8. CDCC Tactical - Operational Management teleconference
Operational Management teleconferences take place between: the NDCC, APHA, and the CDCC; and between the CDCC and FOB management. These teleconferences provide a forum for heads of teams involved in the outbreak to communicate and be provided with central direction. The issues that are likely to be discussed include a national update, current situation, control measures, operational and policy issues, resources, communications, IT/data; as well as actions or issues requiring escalation.
3.3. Local Authority Co-ordinating Groups
The local authority co-ordinating groups listed below are represented at the Scottish Framework Steering Group. The Framework aims to help meet the objectives of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain to ensure effective, accountable and consistent delivery of animal health and welfare services. The Framework Steering Group, chaired by APHA, ensures all Scottish local authorities are signed up to the framework. APHA will regularly discuss with each individual local authority their service plan, which helps support the planning and delivery of local authority's animal health and welfare functions. This Framework Steering Group is not a disease control response group, but has an important role in disease prevention, as it helps in the delivery of critical control point inspections for markets, high risk farm visits, education, advice and training.
Local Authority Co-ordinating Groups include:
- Societies of Chief Officers of Environmental Health and Trading Standards
- The Scottish Animal Health and Welfare Panel
- Scottish Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Group
- National Animal Health and Welfare Panel
- Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA)
3.4. Resilience Partnerships
Regional and Local Resilience Partnerships (RRPs/LRPs) are the principal mechanisms for multi-agency co-ordination under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. They promote co-operation between organisations in preparation for responding to a major emergency, such as a notifiable animal disease outbreak.
A Resilience Partnership may be activated to deal with the wider consequences of the outbreak and ensure that multi-agency response is well co-ordinated and effective. Resilience Partnerships can be convened at a local level or across a wider area depending on the nature of the incident and the organisations involved. Police Scotland, SEPA and the affected local authority will maintain the link between the resilience partnership and disease control response through their participation in NDCC and FOB bird table meetings. If a Resilience Partnership is stood up, Police Scotland will be invited to attend the DSG.
Where an animal disease outbreak is zoonotic (i.e. can affect human health) close liaison would take place with Public Health Scotland (PHS) and the relevant NHS Board(s). The public health response to the outbreak would be coordinated through a National Incident Management Team (IMT) chaired by PHS. This National IMT will lead the management and coordination of the public health response in Scotland, following the principles set out in the Guidance on the Management of Public Health Incidents.
- Membership of the National IMT would include CsPH(M) from affected NHS board areas and representatives from APHA, Local Authorities and others as appropriate.
- Local implementation and operational aspects of the public health response, e.g. local arrangements for carrying out risk assessments and provision of pre or post exposure prophylaxis, as agreed by the National IMT, will be the responsibility of the NHS board CsPH(M) in the affected area(s). The CPH(M) may convene a local NHS board IMT to facilitate this in line with their local incident management arrangements.
- PHS and the CsPH(M) from relevant NHS board areas may be invited to participate in NDCC and FOB bird table meetings. PHS would also attend the DSG.
Figure 1 below illustrates the relationship between national (Scottish and UK) and local structures that may be set up to help co-ordinate and manage the disease control response, and the links to wider consequence management structures.
It will be for each regional area to determine which Resilience Partnerships should convene based on the specific circumstances of the outbreak. Where regional boundaries are involved, an early decision on the configuration of Resilience Partnerships will be reached following consultation. From the start of an outbreak, a Resilience Coordinator will be invited by APHA to participate in the relevant bird table meetings.
During the disease outbreak, the role of the Resilience Partnership, if convened, would be to:
- protect human life, property and the environment
- minimise the harmful effects of the emergency
- consider the wider consequences of the outbreak
- maintain normal services at an appropriate level, as far as possible
- provide mutual support and co-operation between responders
- support local communities
- manage and support an effective and co-ordinated joint response
3.5. NHS led Incident Management Team (National IMT)
Upon suspicion of disease, and if the disease outbreak has zoonotic potential, the NHS board CsPH(M) will lead the local public health response in close liaison with PHS and in line with local incident management arrangements.
If disease is subsequently confirmed, and has zoonotic potential, a National Incident Management Team (IMT) will be convened by PHS to coordinate the multi-agency public health response to the outbreak in Scotland, following the principles set out in the Guidance on the Management of Public Health Incidents.
The local NHS board CsPH(M) will represent the NHS board(s) on the National IMT and will be responsible for the local implementation and operational aspects of the public health response to the incident. Representatives from the National IMT will sit on the DSG and where appropriate, participate in bird table meetings to ensure effective liaison and coordination between animal and public health response structures. Similarly, an APHA representative will be invited to attend the National IMT.
3.6. Scientific and technical advice
During outbreaks of exotic animal diseases, scientific and technical advice on animal disease control is co-ordinated at a Scottish level through the Scottish Government's Disease Strategy Group (DSG) drawing on veterinary and scientific advice through EPIC (the Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks) and the GB-wide National Experts Group (NEG) within the National Disease Control Centre (NDCC). Outputs from these groups can be shared with operational partners. Specific requests for advice from NEG by operational partners should be routed through the CDCC (or directly to DSG via SG's Resilience Division if requests come from responders out with an area directly affected by the disease).
Where an animal disease outbreak has zoonotic potential, scientific and technical advice on the public health implications and management will be provided by the National Incident Management Team (IMT) chaired by Public Health Scotland. Specific requests for advice from the National IMT by operational partners should be routed through the local CPH(M) who will be a member of the National IMT.
Depending on the scale and severity of the incident, the Scottish Government would, where necessary, request via the Cabinet Office the activation of and/or the support of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to consider scientific and technical implications wider than disease control. If a resilience partnership wishes to establish their own Scientific and Technical Advice Cell (STAC) (i.e. to provide resilience partnerships with authoritative information outside of that being considered by the NEG and the IMTs), they should do so through their normal activation procedures.
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