Department of Health and BSI British Standards to boost NHS resilience

Press release - 5 December 2008

The Department of Health and BSI British Standards today announce a new initiative designed to increase resilience to major incidents and disruption across the National Health Service. This will begin with the implementation of BS 25999 Parts 1 and 2, BSI British Standards’ code of practice and specification on Business Continuity Management.

The NHS has a good record of responding well to ‘big-bang’ major incidents, which produce sudden influxes of casualties. However, it has more limited experience of dealing with ‘rising tide’ incidents which develop over a longer period of time. For example, an influenza pandemic, flooding, or restricted energy and water supplies all have the potential to impact upon the NHS in terms of its ability to continue routine business, or maintain patient capacity and organizational infrastructure. Other threats to business continuity include staff shortages, limited access to premises, or failures in technology. Looking beyond NHS organizations’ own services and facilities, increasingly complex supply chains mean that the failure of key suppliers can also have significant repercussions for patient care.

The NHS Resilience Project was set up in 2007 to ensure that NHS organizations are meeting their obligations to maintain effective business continuity management (BCM) plans under the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act. BS 25999-1 Code of Practice on Business Continuity Management and BS 25999-2 Specification on Business Continuity Management provide practical guidelines and requirements for putting BCM arrangements in place. The Department of Health sees the BSI standard as an ideal benchmark against which organizations throughout the NHS can judge their business continuity measures, with widespread adoption promising higher and more consistent standards of resilience across the healthcare system.

Phil Storr, Head of the NHS Resilience Project at the Department of Health, said, “Members of the public expect the NHS to be there for them when they need it, no matter what the circumstances. While the commitment of NHS staff can be relied upon in the time of a crisis, detailed and comprehensive planning is also vital if the most challenging situations are to be dealt with effectively. That is why emergency planning is one of the five national priorities set out in this year’s Operating Framework for the NHS in England. Through its work with BSI, the NHS Resilience Project will help to guide and inform that planning to ensure that the NHS can be there for the patients who need it, whatever happens.”

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said, “We have already seen widespread enthusiasm across industry for the Business Continuity Management tools offered by BSI British Standards and I am pleased that the Department of Health will be encouraging their adoption amongst NHS trusts. This is a very positive step on the road towards achieving consistently high-quality Business Continuity Management throughout the NHS.”

Following the implementation of BS 25999 Parts 1 and 2, the Department of Health and BSI British Standards will continue to collaborate to deliver a far-reaching and sophisticated approach to BCM, tailored to the needs of the NHS.

About BSI Group
BSI British Standards is part of BSI Group, a global independent business services organization that inspires confidence and delivers assurance to customers with standards-based solutions. Originating as the world’s first national standards body, the Group has over 2,300 staff operating in over 120 countries through more than 50 global offices. The Group’s key offerings are:

  • The development and sale of private, national and international standards and supporting information
  • Second and third-party management systems assessment and certification
  • Product testing and certification of services and products
  • Performance management software solutions
  • Training services in support of standards implementation and business best practice.