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A Quick Guide to Continuity Planning

Updated: Sep 1

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:

  • Natural disasters

  • Terrorist attacks

  • Floods and fires

  • Pandemics like the coronavirus

When continuity planning, you constantly need to ask:

  • What if…?

  • 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:

  • Workforce

  • Logistics

  • Supply chains

  • Finances

  • Health and safety

  • Customers

  • Patients

  • IT and systems

  • Premises

  • Stock

  • National and local guidance

  • Timescales and time zones

  • Minimal viable service requirements

  • Reputation

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.

Tough decisions

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!

Final thoughts

  • 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).

  • Work collaboratively.

  • 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.

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I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 260 episodes. I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy. I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs. I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome,and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.

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