A key challenge for the Government in the light of lessons learned during the past year is to recognise, admit and accept that there have been serious flaws and shortcomings in their Forward Emergency Preparedness Pandemic Planning and Management which have adversely impacted the way in which the COVID 19 pandemic has been managed.
All too often the Government has demonstrated a lack of decisive leadership and delays in taking critical decisions during the course of the Pandemic due too often to being behind the curve instead of ahead of
it .There is a lack of of transparency and consistently promising more than it delivers. The administrative mechanisms and processes for planning, managing, coordinating and communicating in time of a major emergency such a a pandemic have been shown to be too bureaucratic, centralised, cumbersome, inflexible ( MoH PPE procurement, delays with test and trace etc )
With COVID still rampant, and operations are ongoing, there is an excellent opportunity now for the Government to critically review, then establish( or adapt existing systems ) a more light touch, agile emergency preparedness and management system which is tailored to respond quickly and decisively to a rapidly evolving situation such as a pandemic ( or other major medical emergency or natural disaster?)
This system could be linked to, but operationally independent from, normal government ministerial bureaucracy and would be activated in times of natural disaster or medical emergency. It would be supported by a specialist civil/military task force of professional emergency managers.
The failures and lessons are well known. Two specific lessons are worth noting:ththe Cygnus Exercise tested national preparedness for a flu pandemic including the need for stockpiling high grade PPE and checking it is kept in date, the countries in East/S.E Asia, Australia and New Zealand which implemented learnedtheimportanceof implementingthelessonsfromSARS/MERStrack/trace/quarantine/bordercontrols