Scottish Government
Saturday, 23 May, 2020

The Scottish Government called for responses regarding the previous preparedness for pandemics, knowing what is known now, what could have been done differently at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and what lessons could be taken forward from the fight against COVID-19.

Fellows of the College who are specialists in epidemiology and public health have commented that previous planning did not adequately prepare us for COVID-19, but there was extensive pandemic planning which focussed on flu. There was an acknowledgment that is not possible to plan for every possible scenario that can arise. Fellows found that with hindsight, the focus on flu within closely defined parameters was not helpful. To a large extent the right people were involved – but there was lack of adequate learning and acting on findings from simulation exercises run; for example operation Cygnus.

From a holistic viewpoint, it would have been helpful to have more focus on wider public health and the health and social care system as a whole, rather than concentrating on secondary care and the NHS.  Lessons that can be taken forward are to have a clear multidisciplinary strategy for outbreak response, a focus on supply chains and disease surveillance, along with the protection of frontline staff and the promotion of innovation.