KEY ISSUES BY SECTOR
33. In addition to the points which arose in managing the response, a number of issues specific to each service were identified. These are discussed by sector, below.
34. The experience gained during the extreme conditions of winter 2010-11 and, specifically, the widespread, very heavy snowfalls and very cold temperatures on 6 and 7 December 2010, led to the formulation of what became known as the '6 point plan'.
35. Building on that plan and the work of the Scottish Salt Group ( SSG), Transport Scotland took forward a project, in consultation with the three trunk road operating companies ( TROCs) and the Performance Audit Group, aimed at increasing the resilience of the Scottish trunk road network further. The subsequent report highlighted three key areas of influence:
- Management/decision making.
- Road users.
36. These areas can be likened to the three legs of a stool supporting the winter resilience of the trunk road network. All three are of equal importance and need to be in balance with each other.
37. All four organisations made the point that whilst there are a wide range of measures that could, if introduced, increase resilience, it is simply not possible to develop a system that can guarantee absolutely that all parts of the road network will never be closed. It is, perhaps, important to recognise that the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 requires all Scottish roads authorities to "take such steps as they consider reasonable to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles over public roads".
38. Roads authorities generally consider that meeting the requirements of a properly formulated and assessed winter maintenance plan, allows them to meet this obligation appropriately.
39. Oral evidence was provided in February 2011 by the Minister for Transport and officials from Transport Scotland to the Scottish Parliament's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee. In addition, SCG debrief reports
outlined the impact of disruption to the trunk road network and local roads on responder agencies. The following challenges to service provision were identified:
- Numerous requests were received for snow clearance/gritting of local roads, pavements and sites.
- Provision of assistance to people in static traffic on trunk and local roads.
- Cost to roads authorities of maintaining salt stocks and ability of domestic salt suppliers to meet demand.
- Degradation of roads and footpaths as a result of weather conditions.
- Abandoned vehicles and ploughed or cleared snow obstructing pavements and access to critical infrastructure sites.
- Repair of defective sensors in severe weather conditions, including low temperatures.
- Responding to difficulties experienced by some goods vehicles on trunk roads which caused disruption to traffic and delays.
- Responding to difficulties experienced by passengers (especially older people, people with young children or people with disabilities) accessing shops, services and public transport due to local road and pavement conditions.
- Responding to difficulties experienced by cyclists travelling on local roads.
- Clarity required in respect of responsibilities of the SSG and transparency required in respect of purchases of salt for the strategic stockpile.
- Review of location of strategic salt stocks.
- Need for a faster and more efficient method for data collected by mobile sensors in patrol vehicles, to be fed back to the control room: it is currently displayed on the vehicle dashboard but the driver has to stop in order to relay the data to the control room.
- Lack of understanding by some stakeholders of the difference between ground and air temperature forecasts and the relevance of each to winter maintenance planning.
- Confusion amongst members of the public about which agency has responsibility for clearing which premises; and the responsibility of individual householders and business owners in respect of pavements and pathways on, or in front of, their premises.
- Introduction of the 6 point plan including the establishment of the multi-agency response team ( MART). The elements of the plan have now been covered by the new winter service for 2011-12.
- Monitoring and maintenance of Scottish salt supplies by the SSG.
- Research undertaken into ice-melting alternatives which work at lower temperatures.
- £4 million provided to help repair defects on trunk roads.
- Automated messages about conditions on trunk road network added to Traffic Scotland helpline.
- Production of guidance, in liaison with the SSG, for householders and business owners in respect of snow clearance.
- In addition, a number of issues were identified by Transport Scotland's Performance Audit Group for consideration by BEAR (one of the three TROCs) in respect of their trunk road winter service:
- Timing of personnel shift changes.
- Use of patrol gritters to check, and report on, road conditions.
- Need for clear information from weather service provider.
- Regular checking of road surface temperature sensors.
- By responding proactively, Transport Scotland is better prepared for winter 2011-12; from minimising disruption from severe winter weather to returning the trunk road network to normal operating conditions as quickly as possible.
- Additional gritters, greater use of technology and getting information to people 'on the move' are just a few of the ways Transport Scotland is strengthening winter treatments, decision making and communication with road users.
Road user information
40. One of the major lessons identified from last winter was that information to the travelling public must be clearer and more specific about the risks of travelling in severe weather. The Traffic Scotland Information Service will strengthen the provision of information 'on the move'. The approach is to get information to the user on a device they carry with them. Transport Scotland is developing further the Traffic Scotland Customer Care Line to improve the speed with which messages are updated and the resilience of the service when handling a very high volume of calls. Transport Scotland is also working with existing partners to deliver an internet streamed Traffic Scotland Radio Service for desktop and mobile applications.
41. In addition, Transport Scotland will publish the TROCs' daily winter action plans and the actual weather condition data from the sensor sites to complement the forecast information already provided. Transport Scotland is also working with the police to improve communication of travel warnings to allow the public to plan their journeys more effectively.
42. Twenty three additional gritters are being procured for winter 2011-12 to patrol the most strategically important routes from 1 November 2011 before, and through, the morning peak when temperatures are forecast to be low and there is a risk of ice forming, and to add to the ploughing capabilities during snowstorms. For winter 2011-12, there will be 190 gritters for motorways and trunk roads. All motorways will therefore be covered by winter patrols giving a 30 minute response to winter incidents. The extended patrol coverage also includes the A9 Dunblane-Perth-Inverness, A720 Edinburgh City By-pass and the A90 from the Forth to Aberdeen where it links with pre-existing winter patrols. The response times on these extended routes will vary from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Winter patrols are in addition to precautionary treatments undertaken on all trunk roads.
43. An Icebreaker from Raiko and new footway snow blowers from SLM are innovative solutions being made available to the Scottish trunk road system in 2011.
44. Transport Scotland holds supplies of various alternative de-icers. These work at temperatures below which normal de-icing salt (sodium chloride) becomes less effective (below -7ºC): EcoThaw 20,500 litres, Safecote 26,000 litres and magnesium chloride 22,000 litres. Guidance has been developed to advise the TROCs about the storage, management and use of these new solutions.
45. Transport Scotland, the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland ( ACPOS), the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association have met a number of times to discuss the management of HGVs and other vehicles during severe weather conditions. The meeting concluded that proactive management would be an option, but only when all other solutions had been exhausted. Communication with drivers is seen as key to preventing any problem from being exacerbated. The means of improving communication will be investigated, considering more effective use of the existing resources and considering new means.
46. To support professional drivers, Transport Scotland has prepared a guidance note for all HGV drivers. This will provide advice on planning for severe weather, what to do during severe weather and what might happen during the severest of weather ( e.g. incident management - management of vehicles). The guidance note will be sent to freight bodies for circulation to their members and will be made available on the Freight Scotland website. Transport Scotland is also developing a Freight Scotland Hotline so that professional drivers can contact the Traffic Scotland Operator to advise them of network problems.
47. Vulnerable locations, where the road gradient can make it difficult for heavy goods vehicles and others to make progress in wintry conditions, have been identified. These locations will receive special attention during winter patrols and treatments. Transport Scotland is learning from the Roads Service Northern Ireland and others about the employment of farmers to assist with snow clearance. While farmers are more commonly used to assist in clearing roads that are not otherwise treated, Transport Scotland has engaged with NFU Scotland to explore how Transport Scotland could call upon farmers to assist with snow clearing on trunk roads should they ever be closed due to heavy snowfalls.
48. Further actions include the supply of welfare kits (space blankets, water and food) to TROC vehicles; footway self-help kits for communities; and a review of the best practices in countries with a similar climate to Scotland.
49. Actions include enhancing the level of information Transport Scotland has with which to make decisions and how to manage traffic disrupted by an event. Six new weather stations are being commissioned for winter 2011-12 and a further 24 of the existing stations will have cameras added. When the new weather stations are commissioned, 64 of the 141 weather stations will have camera coverage.
50. To complement the information from the weather stations, 50 mobile road sensors were procured and fitted to the winter fleet last season. In 2011, the winter duty officers will be able to view the location and temperature data remotely, from each of the patrol vehicles.
51. The MART model has undergone a review to identify lessons from 2010-11 and has evolved to make its operation as efficient as possible for all parties. The MART also allows better and more efficient communication between responders. By being located within the Traffic Scotland Control Centre, MART is best placed to get accurate and live travel information broadcast to the public. The Met Office Public Weather Service Advisor also provides advice to MART.
52. In addition, Transport Scotland is working closely with the police and TROCs to improve emergency traffic management procedures to make the best use of emergency cross-over and allow faster implementation of road closures. From 1 November 2011, Transport Scotland's new rapid response barrier removal crew will be available, 24-7, to assist the emergency services in the relief of vehicles stationery as a result of a major incident.
53. Road safety officials are producing an information leaflet on safe winter driving and winter tyres. This will include factual information on winter tyres (and snow socks) to enable drivers to make informed choices for safer journeys. The information leaflet will form part of the Ready for Winter? campaign (more information about the campaign is available at Annex B).
54. Following the very severe weather in January 2010, the Scottish Government asked the SSG to consider what lessons should be learned from that period and to bring forward recommendations. The starting point for that report was that, despite the second coldest winter since 1914, with only 1962-63 being colder, Scotland coped remarkably well. Nevertheless there were a number of issues, predominantly around salt supplies, that the SSG was asked to address.
55. Over the summer of 2010 the SSG developed its advice. In doing so, members visited Scotland's main supplier of salt as well as talking to the other two UK producers. Members also kept in close touch with, and even gave evidence to, the "The Resilience of England's Transport Systems in Winter" review undertaken by David Quarmby CBE for the Department for Transport.
56. The SSG published its report in 26 July 2010. It contained 11 short-term recommendations, aimed mainly at improving the certainty of sufficient salt supplies for all Scottish roads authorities. All of these recommendations have been acted upon. Consequently, and despite December 2010 being the coldest December on record for Scotland and the second coldest month in the past 100 years, Scotland's salt stocks remained healthy. The report also contained a number of medium and longer-term suggestions to stimulate discussions within the road maintenance community.
57. A number of the medium and longer-term recommendations have been either fully completed, or are currently being taken forward collaboratively with key stakeholders as part of the work on strengthening winter resilience across the Scottish roads network.
58. During winter 2010-11, 645,000 tonnes of salt was spread on Scotland's roads. For 2011-12, preparations are well advanced to enhance Scotland's resilience by increasing salt stock levels held prior to the onset of winter. By 1 November 2011 the total salt expected to be in store will be around 606,000 tonnes. Adding the strategic salt stock of 87,000 tonnes, it gives Scotland 693,000 tonnes overall or 107% of the total salt used in 2010-11. The most recent salt stock-take on 22 September 2011 (excluding strategic salt) showed 480,000 tonnes in stock which equates to 75% of total usage in 2010-11.
59. The TROCs used 107,000 tonnes of salt during 2010-11 and currently have 80,000 tonnes of salt in stock, 75% of the 2010-11 salt usage. The TROCs have all achieved the minimum target re-stocking levels of 70% of 2010-11 salt usage.
60. The SSG has been monitoring the restocking process throughout the summer, including meeting suppliers and Scotland Excel. The SSG has confirmed that there will be adequate salt production to meet the demand and that orders will be delivered to programme. Reporting of salt stock figures will continue throughout the 2011-12 winter season, with reporting on a weekly basis beginning in early November 2011.
61. ScotRail and Network Rail provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee in February 2011 and submitted a joint report to Scottish Ministers, in which the following challenges to the provision of a rail service were identified:
- Snow and ice built up on the underside of vehicles, which required to be cleared and which caused delays.
- Point heaters were overwhelmed by conditions: snow compacted between point blades formed hard packed ice, which the heaters were unable to melt; while in some cases the necessary power cables had been stolen.
- Signalling equipment became buried under deep snow which inhibited normal operation and required digging out.
- Snowdrifts affected safe train operation.
- Icicles formed on some overhead structures, such as bridges, posing a risk to passing trains with any damage having a major impact on performance and capacity.
- There was a significant increase in website traffic and calls to contact centres.
- Part of the network was flooded following short duration/high intensity rainfall which overwhelmed local drainage system.
- Shortage of staff to keep the infrastructure open.
- Challenge of balancing timing of decision in respect of service provision with availability of information.
- Need to reconcile the needs of passengers and freight operators.
- Need to reconcile contingency timetable with preferences of other operators, including cross-border service operators.
- Effect of contingency measures on normal industry measures, such as public performance measures.
- Weather conditions hampered ability to respond quickly by road to incidents on rail network, such as a tree blocking a line.
- Introduction of a Network Rail 20 point plan for fleet performance including a range of initiatives, such as snow clearance and Consideration of revised staffing and stabling arrangements.
- Commissioned further study into water volumes, drainage systems and options for area which experienced local extensive flooding.
- New timetabling system introduced which enabled contingency timetables to be loaded for the first time directly into downstream passenger information systems, including National Rail Enquiries ( NRE), train operator station information systems, online journey planner tools and live departure board information.
- Patrols were deployed to detect and remove icicles.
- Improved ScotRail website capacity: it can now take up to 400,000 hits per day (average number is 26,000 hits per day but 200,000 hits were received on 6 December 2010).
- In 2010, NRE began a programme to enhance key systems to improve their performance after the 2009-10 winter. New and updated services included:
- Social media - proactive messages sent to NRE followers on Twitter and Facebook as well as SMS subscribers (around 1 million messages were sent in December 2010).
- National Service Indicator went live in October 2010 giving the public an overview of the network by operator and route affected and had over 1 million views during the bad weather.
- Helpline went live in December 2010 giving passengers direct access to recorded information.
62. BAA Scotland gave oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee in February 2011 and referred to the challenges involved in getting snow clearing teams to the airport. They advised that it was only by working together that the aviation authority, handling agents and airline operators had been able to ensure that the airport had been able to re-open and flights resume, as quickly as possible.
- Scotland's airports have been updating their winter operational plans to ensure that they can respond rapidly to extreme weather.
- Aberdeen has invested around £500,000 in new snow clearing equipment, and has set new targets for the airside team to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum.
- Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are working in partnership with the TROC, Amey, on their snow plans through a new (and separate) contract, which will help provide more winter resilience for the travelling public.
- Investment of approx £1.5 million in additional equipment for delivery in December 2011.
63. Transport Scotland and the Confederation of Passenger Transport ( CPT) are making arrangements to improve communications between Traffic Scotland and bus operators on the strategic network. It is important that incidents affecting operators can be communicated from the bus operator to Traffic Scotland and that Traffic Scotland can keep operators informed of major incidents affecting their services.
64. Transport Scotland recognises the key role that bus and coach operators play in providing regular, reliable services across the length and breadth of Scotland and to other parts of the UK. During the evidence session of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee meeting on 8 March 2011, the Committee and the CPT recognised the challenges faced by the bus sector last winter, and acknowledged that more could be done to achieve greater consistency in the information to passengers during periods of disruption, and in achieving a greater level of service consistency.
65. CPT undertook to work with its members, and they in turn with their local authority and other partners, to address some of the issues from 2010-11. In early October 2011, representatives from the main bus operators, CPT and Transport Scotland met to discuss how to share information on incidents more effectively, including severe weather, and the subsequent impact on the strategic network. This will include CPT participation in the MART.
66. It is crucial that incidents affecting operators are communicated to bus and coach travellers as soon as possible, using all available methods, whether that be by mobile communications such as Blackberry, Android phones and i-Phones, or through the services provided by Traveline Scotland and Traffic Scotland.
FERRIES AND PORTS
67. Ferries and ports were largely unaffected by the severe weather conditions last winter. Lifeline ferry services continued to operate and ports remained open with existing resilience plans being effective for the most part. Disruption to road and rail networks reduced demand for ferry travel.
68. Scotland's ports and ferry operators have reviewed their salt supplies and salt storage facilities; have invested in new clearing equipment; with existing equipment serviced and made ready for use. They have reviewed their individual business continuity plans and are well prepared. For example, Clydeport has purchased a 4X4 vehicle to ensure pilots can get from, and to, the pilot cutter and boats.
69. The Scottish Government currently subsidises the lifeline ferry services throughout the Clyde and Hebrides and the Northern Isles through a series of public service contracts with CalMac, Argyll Ferries Ltd and NorthLink Ferries Ltd.
70. During periods of severe and inclement weather disruption, ships' masters have sole responsibility for deciding whether to sail.
71. Service information from the three ferry providers is now widely available to customers through their websites, SMS texts and smartphone APPS. CalMac also contact customers directly with service information as required. In addition, there is a disruptions e-mail group, from which service information is sent to broadcasters for use in their travel bulletins.
72. Ferries tend to operate on a 'just in time delivery' for fuel with most vessels getting their fuel supply directly topped up every two or three days. When the roads are blocked then supply of fuel to ferries is disrupted. Only a few locations around the ferry network, such as Gourock and Oban, are able to bunker fuel.
73. Fuel for the Clyde and Hebrides services is sent from Grangemouth and it is important that supply lines to the west of Scotland are kept open. Fuel supplies for the Northern Isles services come largely from Nynas in Dundee and are carried by road tanker to Aberdeen. Keeping the A90 open, therefore, is clearly very important to that supply line. Keeping the ferry services operating is an important consideration in maintaining the supply lines to Scotland's island and remote communities.
74. CalMac, Argyll Ferries Ltd and NorthLink Ferries Ltd all have an effective working relationship with the Transport Scotland and Scottish Government resilience teams.
UTILITIES AND CRITICAL NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
75. An independent debrief event was undertaken in March 2011, with representatives from the energy, transport and water sectors, which identified the following issues:
- Difficulties experienced accessing the transport infrastructure, Critical National Infrastructure ( CNI) sites, and remote locations for deliveries or response to call-outs.
- Difficulties experienced securing delivery of raw materials critical to the fuel production process.
- Challenges of managing interruptible supplies of gas to customers who had alternative energy supplies available.
- Challenges of managing customer expectations, particularly in remote or rural locations.
- Meeting demand for heating oil (not all of which were urgent).
76. In addition, Scottish Water undertook a review of the impact of the severe weather on water services during December 2010 and January 2011 and a number of recommendations were made, including:
- Need for command team to plan rest periods and cover for all individuals involved in responding to incidents to avoid fatigue and a potential impact on performance.
- Consideration should be given to gathering field intelligence on assets such as pipe depths; other customers affected; and a detailed review of the capability of existing systems and processes so that shortfalls can be identified and addressed in advance of the 2011-12 winter period.
- Production of comprehensive dashboard information would be more effective and provide more confidence and certainty of reported numbers.
- Process, systems and data templates developed by the bottled water command should be reviewed, formally documented for use in future events and included in existing plans (including specific guidance on the volume of water to be delivered in respect of each household).
- Review how contacts are plotted and displayed through spatial systems and recommend improvements in how hotspots and developing incidents can be best identified and escalated.
- A service strategy should be set out in future winter plans including the relevance of charging for customer-side repairs to frozen services.
- An education programme should be developed so that customers have knowledge of their responsibilities.
- Need to develop efficient, practical and innovative ways of preventing supply pipes freezing and where this is not achieved, for defrosting pipes.
- Develop a plan for improving resilience against low temperatures for critical plant.
- Complete an assessment of Scottish Water Specifications and Standards and update, as appropriate, with consideration of applying environmental criteria to cater for circumstances where extreme temperatures are more likely.
- The Asset Rationalisation and Resilience Strategy should be reviewed and the Regional Water Strategies should include a further assessment of opportunities to improve connectivity and minimise tankering during local supply/demand challenges.
- Review corporate data to identify communities at risk of frozen services and complete an engineering assessment to identify where Scottish Water can provide a practical and permanent solution to the issue of frozen pipes or advise customers of what they need to do.
- A new sub-group of the Resilience Advisory Board for Scotland ( RABS) was established, the Scottish Infrastructure and Utilities Group, comprising representatives of key stakeholders who were affected by the winter weather. The Group has developed an action plan for the immediate, medium and long-term actions which were identified in the debrief exercise undertaken in March 2011, to ensure the critical infrastructure and the utilities are better prepared for similar winter conditions in 2011-12. Following completion of that work, the Group will compile and forward a report to RABS.
- In addition, the Scottish Government CNI Resilience Team has been working with stakeholders to develop a Vulnerable Persons and Vulnerable Customers Framework. The draft Framework recognises that some persons/customers may require support in all situations while some persons/customers who do not normally require specialist support, may find themselves in need of some assistance as circumstances change. The draft Framework will provide a generic framework setting out broadly the key steps that stakeholders should follow or have in place when considering both vulnerable people and vulnerable customers. It is intended that the Framework be in place for winter 2011-12.
LOCAL AUTHORITY SERVICES
77. At the COSLA leaders' meeting in January 2011, the severe winter weather conditions and their impact on a range of local authority services were discussed. It was agreed that a Severe Weather Review Task Group would be established, made up of elected members and professional organisations to assimilate the experiences and learning of councils across Scotland to aid future winter planning. The Group drew on reports and information prepared by: Society of Chief Officers of Transportation; Association of Directors of Education in Scotland; Society of Local Authority Chief Executives; Association of Directors of Social Work; Society of Personnel Directors in Scotland; and Local Government Communications.
78. The Task Group's review of how local authorities responded and adapted to the challenges of the severe winter weather conditions in recent years has demonstrated the commitment of local authorities to continuous development and improvement in their winter resilience planning and service delivery.
79. There have been annual improvements in a number of areas, including the level and coverage of winter contingency planning as a corporate response across councils. The Task Group noted that, increasingly, councils are planning for severe winter weather on a cross-departmental basis and preparing wider strategies to facilitate inter-departmental working. In addition, the degree of resilience preparedness and salt stock levels across authorities, found in recent surveys and analysis by the SSG, show significant amounts of resources have been ordered for the 2011-12 winter; and that existing stocks are currently above those held in October 2010.
80. The review identified a number of areas in which service delivery during severe weather conditions could be improved by closer and more co-ordinated working between central and local government; and the report makes a number of recommendations:
- COSLA would welcome further discussions with the Scottish Government about climate change and local authority winter resilience planning ahead of the development and publication of the first statutory adaptation framework for Scotland.
- COSLA would welcome further discussions between the main partners to enhance preparation and joint planning between the Scottish Government and councils in order to source and maintain stock levels of de-icing materials and avoid paying premium prices in-season.
- COSLA would recommend that co-ordination and contracting arrangements between Transport Scotland, the TROCs, and local authorities are reviewed annually to ensure the best possible level of service for the public.
- COSLA recommends that formal agreement is needed on the strategic co-ordination of information between the Scottish Government, the SSG, SCGs, and local authorities. This should include prior planning and agreement on a suite of reasonable and meaningful information that is required; why and when it is required; and when it can be provided.
- It is recommended that the Scottish Government, in consultation with COSLA, should continue to lead on providing strategic messages to the public, messages which local authorities could augment with local information. For specific messaging and information on locally managed services, such as schools, local authorities should provide the lead.
- COSLA recommends that national guidance on the delivery of local services be kept to a minimum and only issued after prior consultation with COSLA. Nationally issued guidance can create expectations at a local level where the specific circumstances and weather conditions might not allow the guidance to be implemented. Guidance and messages to the public about locally managed services are best delivered by the local authority.
- COSLA recommends that further advice from the Scottish Government on pathway clearance and legal liability be issued. This would assist local authorities, significantly, in encouraging and supporting community resilience and self-help. This could form part of the Scottish Government's proposed Ready for Winter? campaign, with assistance from local authorities, to encourage personal responsibility and utilise community assistance.
- COSLA would welcome discussions with the Scottish Government on resourcing issues, particularly the possibility of a framework arrangement for additional provision to local authorities in exceptional circumstances.
81. The review of how local authorities have responded and adapted to the challenges of the severe winter weather conditions in recent years has demonstrated to the Task Group the commitment of local authorities to continuous development and improvement in their winter resilience planning and service delivery. Notable improvements have been seen, year on year, in a number of areas, including:
- Winter contingency planning.
- Salt stock levels and the level of resilience.
- Public communications.
- Cross-service planning and use of resources.
- Cross-organisational management and planning.
82. Specifically, COSLA would highlight significant developments in a number of areas of priority service delivery for local authorities: schools' resilience has improved following reviews of priority routes' treatment and schools have been provided with extra equipment; contingency plans for the continuation of education in the eventuality of school closures; and improved communications to parents. In social care, contingency arrangements for accessing vulnerable people during the severe weather conditions have been refined and formalised, including using voluntary sector co-ordination groups in the utilisation of suitably trained volunteer personnel and 4x4 vehicles.
83. Joint working over any future winter weather events was recognised as critical by council leaders in their consideration of the report at their August 2011 meeting. Specifically, the issue of addressing and managing public expectations of service delivery during severe weather and the need to recognise local autonomy of service delivery, especially education services, in severe weather periods. There also needs to be agreement on data collection and submission to the Scottish Government in advance, rather than ad hoc requests from various departments.
- Elected Members' Task Group established.
- Corporate responses of councils and departments collated and reviewed.
- Severe Winter Weather Report produced and presented to council leaders in August 2011.
- The report and key recommendations submitted to the First Minister and published on the COSLA website at http://www.cosla.gov.uk/resilience-planning
84. The Scottish Government Directorate of Health Workforce and Performance has a well established process to monitor NHSScotland organisational performance across the winter period, from a whole systems perspective. Weekly management information, submitted by NHS Boards, helps the Directorate to monitor, routinely, NHS services which are likely to experience the greatest increases in pressure during the winter months.
85. During the prolonged periods of severe weather in 2010-11, NHS Boards provided daily situation reports to the NHSScotland Resilience Team on staffing, facilities and infrastructure disruptions in addition to the routine weekly service pressure reports. That information was factored into the Scottish Government's resilience response.
86. A formal review of NHSScotland's performance over the winter period commenced in March 2011, which featured the issue of a perception questionnaire to Scotland's 14 Territorial NHS Boards and two Special NHS Boards (the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24). Winter planning leads within each Board were asked to discuss the questionnaire with appropriate contacts across their range of key partners and services, to provide an assessment of how well their Board had performed during the winter.
87. The feedback from the questionnaire was considered alongside information gathered through the weekly and daily management reports and a range of official statistics on NHSScotland performance, which were provided by the Information Services Division of NHS National Services Scotland. This collective information was used to produce a comprehensive Winter Review Management Report, which was shared and discussed with NHS Boards and their key partners and Scottish Government Health & Social Care Directorate policy colleagues at a National Winter Planning Conference in June 2011.
88. NHS Boards reported that the key pressures they experienced in 2010-11 were:
- Severe winter weather.
- Increased numbers of falls and fractures (in some Board areas).
- Difficulties in staff getting to work.
- Difficulties for ambulances travelling on snow and ice covered roads.
- Difficulties in discharging patients (range of reasons).
- Increased incidence of respiratory illness and demand on Intensive Treatment Unit beds.
- Unpredicted surges in service demand.
89. NHS Boards also identified a number of key areas for improvement as detailed below:
Key areas for improvement
- Improving information on numbers of health workers vaccinated for flu.
- Reducing levels of boarding from A&E/Acute Departments.
- Increasing consultant led discharge rounds over weekends.
- Implementation of estimating date of discharge.
- Improved communication to staff and patients about travel during severe weather.
- Services and road departments.
- Stronger engagement with local authorities.
- Stronger engagement with voluntary sector and independent care home partners.
- Improving weekly data on delayed discharges.
- In October 2011, the Scottish Government Directorate for Health Workforce and Performance issued the 2011-12 winter planning guidance to NHS Boards. The guidance sets out the key planning priorities that NHS Boards should focus on, in developing plans for winter 2011-12, as indicated below:
- Agree and test escalation policies.
- Undertake detailed analysis and planning to effectively schedule elective activity (both short and medium-term) based on forecast emergency and elective demand, to optimise whole systems business continuity: mainly to take into account the surge in activity anticipated in the first week of January 2012.
- Agree staff rotas in November 2011 for the fortnight in which the two, four-day festive holiday periods occur to match projected peaks in demand.
- Optimise patient flow by implementing Estimated Date of Discharge as soon as patients are admitted, or scheduled for admission, with supporting processes, to proactively manage discharge at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Ensure consultants are available to discharge patients throughout weekends and the fortnight in which the two, four-day festive holiday periods occur, in order to maximise capacity.
- Agree anticipated levels of homecare packages that are likely to be required over the winter (especially festive) period and utilise Rapid Response Teams of multi-disciplinary professionals to facilitate discharge.
- Ensure that communications between key partners, staff, patients and the public are effective and that key messages are consistent.
- NHS Boards have also been asked to identify personnel considered to be essential to maintaining services and to ensure that business continuity arrangements are in place, such as access to resources, including staff, equipment and vehicles, on a 24-hour basis during periods of severe weather.
- The Directorate for Health Workforce and Performance is sharing geographical information with NHS Boards on the number of emergency admissions which were due to falls and fractures across the 2010-11 period of severe weather. This information should help facilitate discussion with local authorities around local contingency planning, and NHS Boards have been asked to ensure that they have agreed priorities in place for gritting arrangements to make sure that services are not adversely affected in the 2011-12 winter.
- NHS Boards will raise awareness amongst patients and staff of the Scottish Government's Ready for Winter? campaign, the Ready Scotland website and the Met Office National Severe Weather Warning Service.
- Two Regional Winter Planning Events were held in September 2011 to help support NHS Boards in the development and refinement of their winter plans for 2011-12. NHS Boards were invited to highlight the key risks they face this coming winter and outline how these risks will be managed. NHS Boards were also given the opportunity to discuss with senior managers how they are testing the effectiveness of their 2011-12 winter plans to help promote and share good practice. NHS Boards are expected to sign off and publish their plans by 30 November 2011.
- The Scottish Government Directorate for Health Workforce and Performance is working closely with colleagues across the Scottish Government, including the NHS Resilience Team, and a number of key NHSScotland partners to ensure that business continuity plans are well integrated into the overall winter planning process, and that there is a joined up and consistent approach to managing the 2011-12 winter pressures.
SCOTTISH AMBULANCE SERVICE
90. The Scottish Ambulance Service has conducted a formal review of the 2010-11 winter period. Key issues have been examined, issues resolved and an action tracker has been developed to monitor and keep the issues under review. There are common themes from the review in line with the findings of the wider NHS review, as detailed in the section above. The service continues to work with the Scottish Government, NHS Boards, voluntary aid services and multi agency partners to ensure increased resilience.
- Reviewing 4x4 ambulance capability through rolling vehicle replacement programme.
- Approval gained for a bunkered fuel supply which will be in place for the end of the 2011-12 financial year.
- Examining the use of social media as a means of communication during a protracted incident.
91. Voluntary sector organisations played a key role in keeping Scotland moving in 2010-11, by delivering services themselves and by working in partnership with other service providers to help them respond to the challenges posed by the severe weather conditions and to maintain the continuity of their businesses. The challenging conditions over the winter also provided a catalyst for a number of new partnerships and innovative projects, which have been developed further during 2011.
- The Scottish Government is developing a national level Voluntary Emergency Responders' Guide for category 1 and 2 responders with information on services available from the sector.
- Improved information about voluntary sector services was made available for the Lothian and Borders by the publication, by the local SCG, of a Voluntary Agencies' Directory intended to give other responders an improved understanding of the capability of the voluntary agencies which operate in the region.
- Seminars were run by the Scottish Government with the RABS Voluntary Sector Group and SCGs, which brought together voluntary sector and public sector responders and focused on developing mutual awareness and joint working. These featured exercises with scenarios which involved a simulated response to winter weather emergencies.
- New partnership working between British Red Cross, Raynet and Lothian 4x4.
- WRVS Aberdeenshire's telephone helpline for people in need of support due to weather conditions.
- British Red Cross working with Tesco to help provide bedding for stranded passengers at Glasgow Airport.
- Growth of the 4x4 Responder Network in Scotland, which is taking steps to develop improved national and regional co-ordination, including working closely with SCGs and representation on the RABS Voluntary Sector Group.
- Community emergency planning initiatives have been developed to mobilise community assets in a number of areas which were heavily affected by the severe weather. For example, four communities in the Scottish Borders Council area are currently engaged with the council's "Resilient Communities" initiative; with the support of the local authority they are developing locally appropriate community-based responses to emergencies, which will complement the work of the emergency response agencies.
BRITISH RED CROSS
92. British Red Cross had a significant and extended response to the severe winter of 2010-2011. Working with key partners, including the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Health Boards and local authorities, they provided assistance from 25 November 2010 to 14 January 2011. During that time, 230 volunteers and staff across Scotland helped 2,500 people.
93. The partnerships extended to Land Rover and local businesses which provided the Red Cross with additional vehicles. Tesco donated items such as food and bottled water, which were distributed as modern-day Red Cross parcels to vulnerable people stranded in their own homes.
94. In January 2011, the Red Cross delivered food and water on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council Services for Communities Department. These were destined for people who were identified as being among the most vulnerable in the Scottish capital.
95. In Glasgow, the Red Cross were inundated with requests for the loan of wheelchairs for people who had fallen on the snow and ice and suffered broken hips, legs and ankles. In northern Scotland, dozens of volunteers and staff worked round the clock delivering hot meals to people trapped in their homes, transferring patients to and from hospital and hospices.
96. In the Borders, the Red Cross supported the Scottish Ambulance Service, transporting renal dialysis patients from their homes to hospital for vital treatment, and providing transport for community nurses making much needed home visits.
- Fitted key vehicles with tracking devices, which assist in planning and the safety of drivers. These tracking devices provide real time information, including location and details of the route travelled by staff and volunteers.
- Volunteers are being trained in severe weather driving skills, in partnership with Land Rover.
- A number of Red Cross vehicles are being equipped with winter tyres, suitable for the severe weather conditions.
- Extension of a Virtual Private Network to enable safe working from home without loss of effectiveness, and minimising impact on beneficiaries.
- Extended training for the 'Page 1' call out system which enables real time messaging to large groups, which in turn improves response time and deployment planning.
- Further provision of 4x4 vehicles which are both wheelchair accessible and have good passenger carrying capacity. The fleet of vehicles in northern Scotland was extensively developed to meet requirements during severe winter weather and all vehicles are fitted with a survival kit.
- In northern Scotland, a stock of essential items have been built up for distribution to those who may be stranded due to the winter weather.
- Through advocacy work, the Red Cross has called on the Scottish Government for a national preparedness week operating at both a national and local level, to improve the ability of individuals, volunteers, groups and organisations to withstand and recover from emergencies in their area. This initiative is now being rolled out through the Scottish Government across Scotland (more information is at Annex B).
97. Business Continuity Management ( BCM) is the set of processes through which organisations prepare for, prevent, and respond to, disruptions to normal business. Severe winter weather can present many challenges to business continuity including the delivery of raw materials and products; the availability of staff; damage to premises or loss of access to these; difficulties in reaching customers and service users; and disruption to other businesses who are suppliers or sub-contractors. Emergency responders have a statutory duty to have BCM arrangements in place and local authorities have a duty to supply information about this.
- The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth met representatives of the main business organisations on 17 January 2011 to take stock of their members' severe weather experiences and thoughts about what Government at all levels could do, to learn lessons, prepare better, and sustain the economy whilst acknowledging that business continuity planning and implementation is the responsibility of businesses. The focus was on improved communications and resilience of the transport infrastructure.
- The Scottish Government has produced accessible, entry level information on business continuity on its Ready Scotland website, under Ready Business ( http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/public-safety/ready-scotland/Ready/Business.
- The Scottish Government has worked with the Business Continuity Institute and other specialist organisations to provide training events and to support conferences on business continuity, and continues to build business continuity themes into resilience exercises such as the recent Exercise Polar Storm (more information abut the Exercise is available at Annex C).
- The Scottish Government is actively engaged with the UK Government in the development of publications on business continuity, and with public sector colleagues within Scotland to revise procurement arrangements to strengthen business continuity.
- The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland advised that one in seven people had been unable to attend work during the most severe weather last winter. However, in some areas where there were few options available in respect of local services (such as shops), staff had made considerable efforts to ensure that a level of service was provided: shop access areas were kept clear and in the event that a regular customer did not visit, steps were taken to ensure that they were safe and had adequate supplies.
98. While the farming community is accustomed to planning around the weather conditions of the different seasons, the prolonged period of severe weather had the following impact:
- disruption to the distribution of raw materials and produce;
- disruption to the movement/maintenance of livestock; and
- collapse of farm buildings under the weight of snow, resulting in the loss of livestock/produce or a need to relocate produce/livestock.
- NFU Scotland has its own helpline and should a responder agency be unable to gain access to a vulnerable person in a remote area, NFU Scotland may be able to assist by providing transportation to either the responder or the vulnerable person.
- NFU Scotland is forging links with key responders to formalise their assistance to their communities through snow clearing, deliveries of goods and essential services. In addition, they use their own network to look after those most vulnerable in their communities.
- The Scottish Government produced a brief report of the effect of the winter weather on the farming community which is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/grants/A-Z/severeweather. It includes advice for farmers in respect of planning for the winter.
99. SEPA undertook a business continuity review during 2011-12.
- SEPA have revised their business continuity management plan and disaster recovery solutions.
- The Scottish Government has provided £560k to help SEPA and the Met Office establish the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service ( SFFS) which was formally launched (along with Floodine's Direct Warning Service) by the then Minister of Environment and Climate Change on 21 March 2011.
- A daily Flood Guidance Statement is issued by the SFFS to emergency responders and provides advice on current and forthcoming flood risk levels and locations. The Statement helps manage expectations about potential duration of flood events and allows shared understanding of current and forthcoming flood risks.
- At the same time as the SFFS was launched, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change launched the new Floodline Direct Warnings Service http://www.sepa.org.uk/flooding/sepas_floodline_service.aspx. This allows members of the public to register for free messages direct to their landline or mobile phone should a flood warning message be issued for their area.
100. In feedback provided by SCGs in January 2011 on the Scottish Government's strategic response to the weather conditions, the following points were highlighted:
- Responders appreciated the inclusiveness of the Scottish Government Resilience Room ( SGoRR), with many partners invited to participate in the frequent tele-conferences.
- SGoRR's role in providing national situational awareness was valued, particularly in the early stages.
- The operation of SGoRR placed a lot of pressure on responders. Demands for information to support SGoRR activity, were much higher than in previous incidents, in part, due to the protracted activation of SGoRR.
- A dialogue around the relationship between the Scottish Government and responders would be welcomed.
- Clarity around strategic direction from the Scottish Government and the role of SGoRR would be beneficial. Similarly, responders would appreciate a greater steer around the expectations that the Scottish Government might have at the outset of an incident to enable responders to plan and resource appropriately.
- Exercise Polar Storm, a table-top exercise which took place on 7 September 2011, assessed Scotland's ability to respond to a prolonged severe weather event (more information can be found at Annex C);
- Ready for Winter? campaign (more information at Annex B); and
- The re-launch of the Ready Scotland website (more information at Annex B).
- In direct response to the issues highlighted by SCGs, the Scottish Government is:
- Supporting the Scottish Flood Forum ( SFF) which works in partnership with SEPA and other relevant organisations to: raise general awareness of flooding; to encourage people to take action for themselves; educating people about their own personal responsibility; and preparing them for future flooding events.
- Restructuring to ensure continuity of leadership within SGoRR especially during prolonged periods of activation.
- Working with SCGs and responders to define, in advance, information likely to be needed during an incident in order to help manage the response to an incident so that the flow of information can be improved.