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Regional “major incident” guidelines cause political friction


28 January 2015

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Guidance issued to hospitals in the West Midlands about when to call “major incidents” has caused friction between the Conservative and Labour parties.

Hospitals have been told by NHS England’s area team, to consider 17 criteria before calling a “major incident” including the availability of bed space, the status of ambulances and community capacity.

Guidance issued to hospitals in the West Midlands about when to call “major incidents” has caused friction between the Conservative and Labour parties.

Hospitals have been told by NHS England’s area team, to consider 17 criteria before calling a “major incident” including the availability of bed space, the status of ambulances and community capacity.

While Labour said the move was “more about news management than patient safety” Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt explained that the guidelines were a “local decision”.

Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, said:

“Local hospitals continue to have responsibility for deciding whether to declare major incidents, but before doing so best practice dictates that they take account of the wider impacts on other parts of the NHS so that patient safety in the round is protected.

“That’s why NHS England’s local area team in the West Midlands decided to issue these guidelines. This was not a decision of the Department of Health.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has been granted an urgent question on the issue, which will take place after prime minister’s questions.

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