Colleagues across Cheshire and Merseyside work together to test the UKHSA North West Outbreak Plan

On Wednesday 7th June 2023 over 70 public health colleagues from a wide range of roles across Cheshire and Merseyside attended an outbreak exercise with UK Health Security Agency North West (UKHSA NW).  The exercise aimed to test the updated UKHSA outbreak plan and identify any gaps and changes that may be required to the strengthen the plan in preparation for any future Health Protection risks.

The exercise which was carried out virtually in breakout rooms, gave colleagues the opportunity to work together to test the outbreak plan using an escalating measles outbreak scenario, and explore the key elements for responding to the outbreak. These included:

  • An awareness of diagnostic pathways via UKHSA regional lab at Manchester Royal Infirmary in and out of hours
  • The need for rapid triage and isolation of suspected measles cases in primary care services and acute trusts
  • Responsibility for contact tracing of staff and patients in various settings
  • The importance of organisations ensuring that all staff are up to date with their MMR.

During the exercise the below recommendations were identified:

  • Roles and Responsibilities – Further work is required to clarify the roles and responsibilities of organisations during outbreak response.
  • Pathway Development – The exercise highlighted that there are good working relationships across Cheshire and Merseyside. Pathways need to be further defined and embedded across organisations.
  • Out of Hours – Weekend and out of hours arrangements to be revised by all organisations.

Next steps

Following the exercise, a full post-exercise report will be prepared by UKHSA which will be presented at the next Local Health Resilience Partnership Executive Group meeting, and the lessons identified during the highlighted exercise will help to inform the revision of the current outbreak plan. This will then be put forward for consultation.