Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness minutes: 30 August 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness on 30 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Professor Andrew Morris


  • Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick
  • Professor Linda Bauld
  • Professor Tom Evans
  • Dr Graham Foster
  • Dr Audrey MacDougall
  • Dr Jim McMenamin
  • Professor Massimo Palmarini
  • Professor Nick Phin
  • Professor Stephen Reicher
  • Professor Aziz Sheikh
  • Professor Devi Sridhar
  • Professor Mathew Williams
  • Professor Mark Woolhouse 


  • Gill Hawkins
  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)
  • Arlene Reynolds
  • Daniel Kleinberg


  • Redacted S.38 (1)(b)

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed Committee members to the meeting and noted the publication later that day of the Committee’s interim report. The Chair thanked the Committee and working group members for their contribution to this report. 

Committee members were content with the minutes of the previous meetings. 

The Chair noted the concurrent pressures facing governments and the need to work to ensure the recommendations of the Committee are taken forward in a timely manner. 

Interim Report – Next Steps

Committee members summarised the four key recommendations and discussed the importance of securing the input of Committee members, Government, external organisations, and end users for each of these. 


The Committee agreed that work on this recommendation should be very focussed, to ensure that work can be delivered. Specific, targeted work should be prioritised, given limited resources. The distinctive offer from the Committee in this landscape could be to refer to connect with and link existing groups that have taken on this work (Innovation Design Authority, Scottish Health Industry Partnership Group, etc.) to avoid duplicating work and empower what is already being done. There is significant work already underway in institutions in Scotland, and consideration should be given to how centres of excellence and innovation can be supported in Scotland. This includes the support of the end-to-end delivery of innovation into health and care. 

It was noted that there is also significant scope of innovation in healthcare delivery,  patient care, and public health –  beyond technical tool. For COVID-19 for example,  a majority of COVID-19 deaths occurred after mass vaccination had begun. 

There was a brief discussion of funding available from NIHR, and the Chief Scientist strongly encouraged Scottish institutions and researchers to apply for the funding available from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.


Committee members were in agreement that there is need for pace behind this recommendation. Risk aversion can cause significant delays to data access. Committee members also described a number of research and surveillance programmes as being in ‘regression mode’ due to reduced funding and data governance challenges. 

The landscape of research data stakeholders in Scotland was acknowledged to be crowded and Committee members commented that there may a lack of joined-up working in the national landscape. This will be important for work in this recommendation to take into account. Current processes can be streamlined, whilst ensuring there is public understanding of the way data is handled and used safely. There is also scope, through actions like increasing the level of subject expertise on panels such as the NHS Public Benefit and Privacy Panel, could improve the current situation without significant additional resource. 

Another challenge, is that of industry and academic researchers accessing data under current data governance processes. There is significant scope to improve this, as without improving this Scotland will lag behind the rest of the world. Senior political leadership in this area, with clarity on the aims and who drives this would help to galvanise focus and action in this area. The Chair noted independent review on health data which was commissioned by the UK Government Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, accompanying the Secretary of State’s strategy for the use of data in health and care in England.  


The Committee discussed that it is important that the scope and functions of the Centre of Pandemic Preparedness be clearly articulated to ensure it fulfils its potential. The core value of this is as a network, connecting Scottish stakeholders as well as linking these to UK and international partners and organisations. Risk and resilience should be at the heart of the Centre. The Centre should be connected to existing resources, networks and expertise, as well as fitting into and connecting to One Health networks and resilience plans. An example is work that is underway on request of the Chief Medical Officer, for a national laboratory network which is to include a One Health focus. Information relating to this could be included in the final report.

The vision articulated for the Centre should build on existing resource allocation, being ambitious yet realistic.


The work in this recommendation should build on the legacy from COVID-19. There are now greater opportunities to engage with scientists within and outwith the Scottish Government. Alongside the formation of the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness, a number of new or existing groups are in place within the Scottish Government to provide a network for scientific advisers. These include the ScotScience network.


A number of other issues were also raised by working groups and these have been included in the technical annex. Consideration will need to be given to which of these further work should be undertaken in to identify the work and further recommendations that can be made for these. 

The Committee then discussed upcoming plans for engagement on this interim report and its recommendations. The interim report should be widely read across the Scottish Government, as well as by external partners. Novel approaches to dissemination should be considered, drawing the examples from the UK Government Science Media Centre Briefings to encourage public engagement and discussion on the report. 

Part of communication and engagement is ensuring the value of investing in preparedness is understood, such as for tools that can be used flexibly outside of pandemic times, and are in place for future emergencies – illustrating how these offer value. 

A number of Committee members commented on the resource implications of delivering these recommendations. The budget challenges currently faced by the Scottish Government were noted. It is importance to ensure the report is seen as connecting to wider Scottish Government work and building on existing strengths. 

Plans for the upcoming International Reference Group were briefly discussed and the further information on this will be provided to Committee members in the coming week. 


Certain committee members have been asked to given evidence to the Covid Recovery Committee. Committee members asked about the role of the public inquiry and the connections to the interim report. 

The chair thanked members and guests for attending and closed the meeting. 

Christine McLaughlin, joint-director of the Population Health Directorate will be invited to be a regular attendee along Richard Foggo. 


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