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Mass casualty incidents: are NHS staff prepared? An audit of one NHS foundation trust
  1. C S Milkhu1,
  2. D C J Howell2,3,
  3. P A Glynne2,
  4. D Raptis1,
  5. H L Booth2,
  6. L Langmead2,
  7. V K Datta1
  1. 1
    Department of Surgery, University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2
    Division of Emergency Services, University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3
    Centre for Respiratory Research, University College London, UK
  1. Dr C S Milkhu, Harewood Downs House, Amersham Road, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks HPS 4RS, UK; charanjit_milkhu{at}


Background: Lack of knowledge of an NHS trust’s major incident policies by clinical staff may result in poorly coordinated responses during a mass casualty incident (MCI).

Aim: To audit knowledge of the major incident policy by clinical staff working in a central London major acute NHS trust designated to receive casualties on a 24-h basis during a MCI.

Methods: A 12-question proforma was distributed to 307 nursing and medical staff in the hospital, designed to assess their knowledge of the major incident policy. Completed proformas were collected over a 2-month period between December 2006 and February 2007.

Results: A reply rate of 34% was obtained, with a reasonable representation from all disciplines ranging from nurses to consultants. Despite only 41% having read the policy in full, 70% knew the correct immediate action to take if informed of major incident activation. 76% knew the correct stand-down procedure. 56% knew the correct reporting point but less than 25% knew that an action card system was utilised. Nurses had significantly (p<0.01) more awareness of the policy than doctors.

Conclusion: In view of the heightened terrorist threat in London, knowledge of major incident policy is essential. The high percentage of positive responses relating to immediate and stand-down actions reflects the rolling trust-wide MCI education programme and the organisational memory of the trust following several previous MCI in the capital. There is still scope for an improvement in awareness, however, particularly concerning knowledge of action cards, which are now displayed routinely throughout clinical areas and will be incorporated into induction packs.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.