Hospitals' disaster plans failing

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The Independent Online
Hospitals are not properly equipped to provide on-the-spot assistance at the scenes of disasters and major incidents, experts said yesterday.

Under NHS guidelines issued in 1990, large regional hospitals should have mobile medical teams ready to offer instant back-up to the emergency services. Specific roles, responsibilities and training for the medical "flying squads" are set out.

But the new research shows that in 150 large hospitals, only a third of teams contained both a surgeon and an anaesthetist, and few hospitals differentiated between surgical and resuscitation teams. In almost half the teams, the leader was a trainee hospital doctor. Members of mobile medical teams were invariably junior doctors with little experience.

The findings, from a study led by Dr Simon Carley, of the Accident and Emergency Department at Manchester Royal Infirmary, appeared in the specialist journal Pre-Hospital Immediate Care.