Pandemic Continuity Planning: will coronavirus test local authority business continuity plans? A case study of a local authority in the north of England

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Coronavirus, Covid-19, Pandemic, Excess Deaths, Local Authority, Death Services, Business Continuity.


This paper considers the potential impact of the coronavirus on a UK Local Authority’s ability to manage excess deaths, and models the potential impact of a 50% clinical attack rate and a 1% and a 2.5% death rate. The case study was undertaken in 2019 prior to the coronavirus outbreak and was originally focussed on a pandemic flu epidemic, but the findings are relevant to the potential impacts of this new virus.

During a pandemic, UK Local Authority (LA) death and bereavement services will be subject to an increase in workload and staff absences. Business continuity plans to ensure service continuity are required but uncertainty regarding the actual number of excess deaths makes accurate planning challenging. This paper models death rates in an authority in the north of England using the UK Government Cabinet Office’s National Planning Assumptions Assessment Tool, and, drawing on qualitative interviews with key stakeholders, considers how people working in death and bereavement services in a local authority would be able to cope. Findings suggest that although business continuity plans are in place, it is highly likely that the services will be overwhelmed even in the case of the lower mortality rate. 









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