Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness.


The Standing Committee on Pandemic Preparedness will be a permanent advisory group to the Scottish Government, established to bring together scientists and technical experts to advise the Scottish Government on the future risks from pandemics and to ensure we are as prepared as it is possible to be for these.

The Committee will draw on advice on pandemics coming to the four nations from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other sources of information and advice, including the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), UK Government departments, and NHS Scotland to inform advice to the Scottish Government on decisions in Scotland on preparedness for and response to future pandemics. Scientific evidence will be shared with UK Government counterparts on a reciprocal basis.

The Committee’s remit extends to:

  • advice on preparedness for and response to future pandemics, but not to management of the response to future pandemics
  • all aspects of preparedness in relation to public health and connected issues, but not to economic or wider aspects of preparedness not connected to public health

Advice on the current COVID-19 pandemic will remain the responsibility of the Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group and is therefore not within the remit of the Committee.

Chair and members

The Chair will be an independent expert appointed by the First Minister. Committee members will be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. The Committee chair will be supported by two vice chairs, the Chief Scientist (Health) and the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government.

Committee members will include scientific and technical experts from fields including public health, epidemiology, virology, behavioural sciences, global health, medicine, veterinary medicine, zoonoses and statistical modelling. In addition to independent experts, members may be clinicians and officials from the Scottish Government and associated agencies, selected for their role in pandemic preparedness and response. 

The Committee will support Scottish Ministers and senior clinical advisers by: 

  • providing expert advice on the risk from and preparedness for future pandemics and synthetic and biological pathogen threats, spanning disciplines including public health, epidemiology, virology, behavioural sciences, global health, medicine, veterinary medicine, zoonoses and statistical modelling
  • securing additional advice from other areas of expertise, where necessary, to supplement and inform the Committee’s consideration of the issues within its remit
  • advising the Scottish Government on the strategic approach to identifying, accessing and using data to support our understanding of future pandemics in Scotland which will include consideration of the use of data to monitor responses to future pandemics
  • forming and supporting subgroups reporting into the Committee, ensuring the provision of high quality and aligned advice
  • maintaining close engagement with Public Health Scotland, SAGE, UKHSA and other sources of advice and interpreting their outputs and other emerging scientific evidence in the context of Scotland
  • providing input to and drawing on advice and recommendations from the Scottish Health Protection Preparedness Group and other relevant groups
  • supporting the Scottish Government to exchange relevant information with organisations in Scotland and engage proactively with key UK and international institutions


The Committee will respond to Commissions received from the Scottish Government and may, on its own initiative, offer advice to the Scottish Government on other issues within its remit where that is considered to be timely and appropriate. 

The Committee will report to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care.


The Committee will initially meet virtually on a monthly basis. The meeting schedule will be subject to change.

Where relevant, additional participants may be invited to join meetings to contribute their expertise to the Committee, on an ad-hoc basis.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, all members of the Committee should endeavour to attend all meetings.

Agendas, supporting papers and minutes of the previous Committee meeting will be circulated to members as soon as is practicably possible by the Secretariat. Minutes of meetings will, in due course, be published on the Scottish Government website with supporting papers.

Where urgent business is required to be conducted between Committee meetings, the Chair will arrange for members’ views to be sought electronically and the outcome will be reported to the next meeting of the Committee.

Secretariat support for the Committee will be provided by Scottish Government officials, including arranging all meetings and circulating Committee meeting agendas and papers. A Scottish Government Deputy Director will provide senior oversight of the operation of the Committee, connecting the remit of the Committee to the wider Scottish Government as appropriate.

Information access and sharing

Information shared with Committee members should be treated as sensitive and not for onward distribution, unless prior permission in writing has been sought from the Secretariat. Any inputs shared with the Committee for discussion will be considered confidential and not for further sharing without written permission from its author. 

Committee members have been selected for their professional expertise. They are of course free to engage with media and communications as they so wish but should be clear that they are speaking in a personal capacity except where they are explicitly authorised by the Chair to represent the agreed views of the Committee.

April 2022

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