LONDON BOMBING: THE RESPONSE Top brass salute managers of a service at its 'brilliant best'

Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 9

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has praised managers whose work carrying out emergency plans ensured a 'superb' NHS response to Thursday's terrorist attacks.

She was backed by NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp, who said the way emergency plans were carried out was a credit to 'Team NHS'.

And chief medical officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson said the response to the emergency showed the health service at its 'brilliant best'. He said the successful roll-out of emergency plans was 'a tribute to an unsung group - NHS managers - who provided the leadership which helped make this operation so successful.' Speaking to HSJ during a visit to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, Ms Hewitt said: 'I've been enormously impressed by the way the meticulous planning and preparation has worked. And you cannot do meticulous planning and preparation without managers as well as clinicians and professionals. It is been superb.

'Over and over again I've heard people say it went like clockwork and the managers who contributed to that have a great deal to be proud of, as do all our NHS staff.'

She said the plan worked well because of the detailed planning, which meant all the different elements of the service had worked together before.

'We had prepared for it. We had contingency plans in place, and what is so impressive is the way those plans worked. The NHS rose to the occasion once again, ' she said.

Sir Nigel told HSJ that the successes in dealing with the tragedy were down to the hard work of NHS staff: 'You expect people in the health service to be professional and caring, but what I've also seen in London is it working like a welloiled machine, ' he said. 'People knew what they were doing and people here have been talking about how well the plan worked. It was very disciplined and very organised.' He added: 'It is a team thing.

What's very obvious is that people have been practising right the way through the system, whether It is the individual ambulance stations or the hospitals or the Department of Health. Professional managers and clinical staff have had to manage that right the way through.

'I wouldn't want to single out any one group, this is about a team - Team NHS.' Sir Liam heaped praise on managers: 'They put their emergency plans into operation. It was a payback for all the time they have invested rehearsing, planning and briefing their staff. I really do not think the NHS emergency planning system on this occasion could have worked any better.'