A Quick Guide to Continuity Planning
Continuity planning is designed to provide guidance in preparation to manage a major incident or crisis and to proactively address the risks and issues of these events.
These crises include:
Floods and fires
Pandemics like the coronavirus
When continuity planning, you constantly need to ask:
What is the implication of…?
How will we plan to minimise, isolate or escalate the situation?
What is the protocol and action plan to manage this?
Who needs to be involved?
These questions are asked taking into consideration:
Health and safety
IT and systems
National and local guidance
Timescales and time zones
Minimal viable service requirements
Under these areas, consider what would a minimum, mild, moderate and severe disruption will look like to your business or service and what you could do?
This is a collaborative exercise which should be documented and stored in a place which is easily accessible in the event of a crisis.
Communication is always key but in a crisis; timely, frequent and clear messaging with the use of appropriate language is imperative.
Be clear on what you do and don’t know and what you are working on. Messages also need to be consistent.
As leaders, in difficult times, you will need to make tough decisions in order to protect your businesses and services in the long run. Job losses, scaling back production, paying employees while they cannot work, etc... These decisions should be made taking into account your continuity planning.
Please note, you will need to move quickly, but not in haste!
In your continuity plan, you will want to set some key operating principles, especially if you are working with multiple organisations.
The continuity plan is the responsibility of more than one person. This is a group effort.
You will need a back plan up to your back plan up.
In the midst of a crisis, communicate daily and consider keeping an up to date repository of key information which will be easily accessible to your colleagues, partners, customers and patients (as appropriate).
Your best-laid plans may go awry and that’s OK. Keep calm, regroup, assess and create a new plan.
Think both short and long term.
Once the crises is over, review your continuity plan. You will need this again and consider the lessons that you learnt to enhance your planning for next time.
Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast.
Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.
Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 150 blogs.