Guidance and framework

Information last updated: 8 September 2020

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Summary of published key strategic guidance for health EPRR

These charts give an overview of the key strategic EPRR guidance documents currently published. For published documents, website links are embedded in the charts.

NHS England Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Framework

This is a strategic national framework containing principles for health emergency preparedness, resilience and response for the NHS in England at all levels including NHS provider organisations, providers of NHS-funded care, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), GPs and other primary and community care organisations.

All NHS-funded organisations must meet the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, the NHS Act 2006 as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the NHS standard contract, the NHS Core Standards for EPRR and NHS England business continuity management framework.

NHS England Incident Response Plan (National)

The NHS England Incident Response Plan (National) is the overarching generic plan that details how NHS England responds to any health related incident or emergency at the national level.

Regional and Director of Commissioning Operations teams’, at a local level, incident response plans will be modelled on the national plan to ensure consistency and standardisation of NHS England’s response plans and functions.

The key objective is to provide confidence through effective oversight, direction and co-ordination of the NHS to enable it to provide a resilient response to incidents and emergencies that could have a national impact upon the NHS.

Concept of operations for the management of mass casualties

This Concept of Operations sets out the way NHS England will establish command and control for a mass casualty incident, and the arrangements which will be put in place beyond normal incident arrangements. It also confirms how, if required, we will make use of powers under section 252A of the NHS Act 2006, as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to direct the health service to respond.

In addition to this, the roles of Ambulance, Acute, Community and Mental Health and Primary Care providers have been set out and, where necessary, identify anticipated requirements for response.

NHS England asks all organisations to work with partners, to ensure their own Mass Casualty response arrangements meet any specific requirements of the Concept of Operations, and these work within the wider health and social care economy.

NHS England EPRR annual assurance process

The purpose of the EPRR annual assurance process is to assess the preparedness of the NHS, both commissioners and providers, against common NHS EPRR core standards.

Due to demands on the NHS, the 2020 process was much reduced and focussed on learning from the first COVID-19 wave and the preparation for future waves and winter.

The 2021 EPRR assurance aims to return some of the previous mechanisms to the process, but also acknowledges the previous 18 months and the changing landscape of the NHS.

NHS England has written to commissioners and providers of NHS funded services confirming the process for the 2021/22 EPRR annual assurance.

This year’s process can be supported in part by the EPRR annual assurance guidance which can be used for reference, however, this document has not been updated to reflect the NHS England EPRR annual assurance process for 2021/22. This document will undergo a full review as part of the upcoming tri-annual review of core standards prior to the NHS England EPRR annual assurance process for 2022/23.

NHS Core Standards for EPRR

As part of the NHS England EPRR framework, providers and commissioners of NHS funded services must show they can effectively respond to major, critical and business continuity incidents whilst maintaining services to patients.

The EPRR assurance process usually uses the NHS England core standards for EPRR. However, as a result of the events of 2020, these standards did not receive their tri-annual review and, as a consequence, not all standards reflect current best practice. We have, therefore, removed a small number of standards to accommodate this year’s assurance process, until we undertake a full review.

NHS England has written to commissioners and providers of NHS funded services, sharing the adapted NHS core standards for EPRR. In addition to this, core standard 60 requires acute hospitals to assure themselves against the Decontamination checklist.

The adapted standards can be supported in part by the Core standards guidance, which can be used for reference, however, this document has not been fully updated to reflect the adapted NHS England EPRR annual assurance process for 2021/22. This document will undergo a full review as part of the upcoming tri-annual review of core standards prior to the NHS England EPRR annual assurance process for 2022/23.

NHS England Shelter and Evacuation Guidance

This guidance is intended to provide a framework for all Health and Social Care providers in the planning, preparation and response to sheltering and evacuating of patients, staff and others from, or within, health care settings, including whole site evacuation.

While this guidance concentrates on the shelter and evacuation of hospital sites, the principles are sufficiently flexible to be adapted for use in respect of other buildings or facilities on healthcare provider sites or to wider primary, social and community care and independent sector facilities. Shelter and evacuation planning is part of broader emergency planning and preparedness.

This guidance updates and supersedes the 2009 Department of Health guidance ‘Planning for the evacuation and sheltering of people in health sector settings: Interim strategic national guidance’.

Resilient Telecommunications Guidance for NHS England and the NHS in England

Good communication is at the heart of an effective response to and recovery from, an emergency and responders should plan for disruption to its communications.

Resilient communications planning is part of broader emergency planning and preparedness and should take account of:

  • Community Risk Registers which provide insight into the types of local situations that might cause disruption.
  • The National Risk Register (NRR) which identifies a number of situations that could potentially disrupt telecommunications.

This guide sets out the minimum operational communications functions, equipment and networks to enable NHS England and NHS-funded organisations in England to discharge their statutory responsibilities. This document sets out maintaining critical functions of patient safety during a major incident or significant service disruption.