Emergency planning and response

DoH has the responsibility to develop policy, guidance and advice on planning and response to emergencies.

Areas of responsibility

DoH has various areas of responsibility in relation to emergency planning and response:

  • to act as a Lead Government Department (LGD) for health consequences arising from the following emergencies:
  • the stockpiling of medical and other countermeasures
  • management, activation and exercising the Regional Health Command Centre (RHCC)
  • ensuring that all regional guidance is closely aligned with:
    • nationally developed policy through the Department of Health
    • emergency planning guidance developed by OFMDFM

DoH as a Lead Government Department

In its role as a LGD, DoH is required to maintain a state of readiness and build resilience to allow it to effectively lead the response to health and social care emergencies where they affect, or have the potential to affect, Northern Ireland. These principles have been endorsed by the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service in 'A Guide to Emergency Planning Arrangements in Northern Ireland', published by the Executive Office.

The DoH emergency response plan

The emergency response plan for DHSSPS sets out how the department will:

  • deploy and operate an effective and resilient response for any emergency that it has been designated LGD
  • provide strategic health and social care policy advice or direction in support of others where another department is designated LGD

The response plan is consistent with the Northern Ireland civil contingencies framework in that an emergency is concerned with the consequences rather than the cause, and is defined as:

'an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK'


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