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Preparation for the next major incident: are we ready? A 12-year update
  1. Jamie A Mawhinney1,
  2. Henry W Roscoe2,
  3. George A J Stannard3,
  4. Sophie R Tillman3,
  5. Thomas D Cosker2
  1. 1 Academic Department of Vascular Surgery, Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  3. 3 Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jamie A Mawhinney, Academic Department of Vascular Surgery, Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London SE1 7EH, UK; jamiemawhinney12{at}


Objectives A major incident is any emergency that requires special arrangements by the emergency services and generally involves a large number of people. Recent such events in England have included the Manchester Arena bombing and the Grenfell Tower disaster. Hospitals are required by law to keep a major incident plan (MIP) outlining the response to such an event. In a survey conducted in 2006 we found a substantial knowledge gap among key individuals that would be expected to respond to the enactment of an MIP. We set out to repeat this survey study and assess any improvement since our original report.

Methods We identified NHS trusts in England that received more than 30 000 patients through the emergency department in the fourth quarter of the 2016/2017 period. We contacted the on-call anaesthetic, emergency, general surgery, and trauma and orthopaedic registrar at each location and asked each individual to answer a short verbal survey assessing their confidence in using their hospital’s MIP.

Results Of those eligible for the study, 62% were able to be contacted and consented to the study. In total 50% of respondents had read all or part of their hospital’s MIP, 46.8% were confident that they knew where their plan was stored, and 36% knew the role they would play if a plan came into effect. These results show less confidence among middle-grade doctors compared with 2006.

Conclusions Confidence in using MIPs among specialty registrars in England is still low. In light of this, we make a number of recommendations designed to improve the education of hospital doctors in reacting to major incidents.

  • emergency care systems
  • major incident, planning
  • guidelines
  • education
  • disaster planning and response

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  • Contributors JAM planned the study, collected data for the study, performed data analysis and wrote the manuscript. HWR planned the study, collected data for the study and reviewed the manuscript. GAJS and SRT collected data for the study and reviewed the manuscript. TDC designed the study, oversaw the running of the study and reviewed the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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