NHS England business continuity management toolkit case study: significant power loss

Organisation: Park Lane Surgery
Incident: Significant power loss

What happened

The village in which the practice is located lost power from a Friday evening over the weekend during Storm Arwen. A local village Facebook page maintained regular updates on the power loss, and this was being followed over the weekend by the Practice Manager. It was stated on the Sunday evening that houses opposite the practice had regained power.

The GP arrived at work on the Monday morning to find a tree covering the whole of the road to the surgery with the power cable lying next to it.

Northern Power Grid (NPG) stated the practice was not a priority, even when explained that not only was it a GP Practice, but also dispensed medication. NPG could not provide a generator for the practice.

The practice manager was offered a room from another local GP practice to work from, the main phones diverted to the receptionists own mobile number, which throughout the day was diverted to another number and back to the main switchboard message when the practice closed.

The three GPs worked from home using practice laptops, as did the Practice Manager who contacted patients who were due face to face appointments to make alternative arrangements. On the second day, one of the GPs relocated to the GP practice who offered support, and patients that needed to be seen face to face could go there.

The surgery was opened to those patients who needed to pick up medication that was already dispensed, albeit there was a real challenge trying to find prescriptions in that situation. Some patients required prescriptions that day, so this was telephoned to one of the GPs and was sent via EPS to their chosen pharmacy.

Action taken

  • The situation was escalated on the Monday morning by the practice manager to the regional NHS England team.
  • Colleagues in NHS England spoke to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS111 provider to inform them of the current situation.
  • Communication was maintained with Northern Power Grid for updates.

Lessons identified

  • The need to identify a local provider of a generator as a contingency for future incidents and determine a funding stream in advance.
  • Whilst the practice had two small backup generators for the fridges, they only last 12 hours and this needs a review.
  • Practice needs to ensure that it keeps minimal stock in the fridge for patients and remind patients to collect their prescriptions. The wastage of the Friday stock came to over £2k.
  • The practice manager provided a personal contact number a nearby resident who has agreed to alert should there be any further issues out of hours.