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Are You Prepared For A Disaster?
After enduring three power cuts at home in the last week, each lasting about an hour, my thoughts turned to our practice Business Continuity procedures and ensuring they are up to date. We hear a lot about businesses needing to have continuity planning measures in place in order to survive and continue to thrive whilst working towards keeping the incident as minimal as possible, but what should we have in place?
In summary, a Business Continuity Plan involves anything that helps to ensure that a business can continue no matter what disruption arises. Disruptions can be caused by anything from a power cut to an epidemic. Other threats include fire, flooding, cyber attacks and even sabotage. That old saying 'prepare to fail or fail to be prepared' could never be more relevant when it comes to business continuity.
Where do we start? Business contingency planning can be such a daunting task but it's often described as 'just common sense'. I think the main thing is to plan for the worst case scenario, that way it will be easier to put strategies in place for minor disruptions. When planning the worst case scenario much of the information and requirements needed such as staffing resources, premises, technology, information and data, suppliers and useful contacts will come together. When dealing with smaller disruptions you will already have all the information you need and the plan can come together quickly.
Don't panic Mr Mannering!
Having experienced power failures during working hours it's important to feel calm and in control during those first few minutes with numerous questions from colleagues such as; who do we need to contact, what about the phones, what about the computers, and what about the patients arriving for their appointments? It's particularly unpleasant though during the winter months if the power failure occurs after sunset, it's not easy trying to put your plans into place by torchlight!
You can't of course stop as soon as you've completed your plan, there's no point in your beautifully prepared plan lying on a shelf gathering dust, you need to put it into practice to make sure it works. It's useful to have a table top exercise with key staff, at least once a year, referring to your Business Continuity procedures. This will not only ensure that you have all the information in the plan that you need, it should encourage staff involvement to ensure things run smoothly in the unfortunate event of a disruption.
Alison Lowerson – QCS Expert GP Practice Manager Contributor