Managing a disaster


Managing a disaster

Did you remember to increase your insurance cover to allow for the refit you’ve recently had?

Have you considered how your business would cope with a flood
or any other disaster? Hilary Cunningham, Numark’s information pharmacist, shares some tips

Business continuity planning can help to manage risks to, and costs incurred by, your business following an emergency. It can also reduce the likelihood of infringing any rules and regulations.

There are three keys aspects to reacting to an emergency such as a flood or fire:

  • Risk mitigation – the ‘before’ phase
  • Incident management – the ‘during’ phase
  • Recovery actions – the ‘after’ phase.

To minimise the risk of a business being adversely affected by a disaster, several things need to be put in place, including insurance cover, consideration to the premises design and layout, and contingency plans for if the premises cannot be used to provide a pharmaceutical service.

Ensuring the business has adequate insurance, including business interruption cover, will enable prompt action to re-open the pharmacy at the earliest opportunity. Business interruption insurance will provide financial assistance to cover losses incurred as a result of closure of the business.

Remember that recovering from a flood, for instance, could take more than 12 months, so make sure your cover allows for this. Numark insurance automatically provides cover up to 24 months.

Each pharmacy should have an SOP that details procedures for the pharmacy to follow in the event of a flood or other emergency situation.

Using designs
Pharmacy design can play a part in minimising damage:

  • Install resilient surfaces.
  • IT equipment, such as the PMR system, should be in an area that is protected in the event of a disaster.
  • Software should be backed up regularly and the back-up stored securely. Off-site storage is the best option.
  • In a flood-risk area ensure stock is not kept on the floor.
  • Avoid use of cellars for storage of important information or documentation. Cellars are the most vulnerable part of a premises to flooding. Insurers will require that any goods or stock stored in a basement is at least four inches or more off the ground, so check your policy.

Above all, check that you are adequately insured to cover your stock, contents and tenants’ improvements. Did you remember to increase your insurance cover to allow for the refit you’ve recently had, or cover the new flooring you’ve put down? Underinsurance can be a major problem in large losses, so take a bit of time to regularly review your cover and speak to your insurance specialist for help and advice.

Prompt and effective action can limit the extent of damage to the business. Effective planning will ensure the pharmacy team is fully prepared to respond:

  • Identify the key staff necessary to operate the business and how they will reach the pharmacy in case of flood, for instance.
  • Assign specific responsibilities to individual members of staff and ensure they are trained to undertake them.
  • Contact details of key staff, suppliers, local pharmacies, surgeries, the NHS area team, IT suppliers, insurance, gas or electric providers should be accessible.
  • Consider temporary relocations if an emergency situation were to force pharmacy closure, eg, local surgery, mobile or temporary buildings. Temporary relocation of the pharmacy should be notified to the GPhC and area team – it is a criminal offence to operate a pharmacy from non-registered premises.

The following are appropriate actions to minimise the impact of an event:

  • Staff should follow the steps in the emergency situation SOP
  • Be aware of the location of gas, water and electric supplies to allow them to be turned off
  • Relocate valuable or important stock, especially difficult to obtain or ‘special’ stock
  • Contact the area team, local surgeries and local pharmacies if the pharmacy needs to close
  • Contact wholesalers to cancel incoming deliveries
  • Consider obtaining small generators or emergency lighting for use within the pharmacy if the premises is adversely affected but safe to operate from.

Recovery actions

Once the initial impact of the event has been dealt with, the pharmacy team needs to prioritise actions to enable the pharmacy to re-open as soon as possible. During the recovery or rebuilding process details of all actions and expenses incurred should be retained for the insurance claim process.

Having the service of your own loss adjuster can be invaluable. A loss adjuster can work with you to ensure you receive the correct settlement and can speed the claim process up. They will liaise with the loss adjusters from the insurance company and simplify things for you so you can concentrate on servicing your patients and local community. Numark insurance policies automatically come with a loss adjusting service in the event of a major claim.

It is important that the area team, local surgeries, wholesalers, customers and staff are kept up-to-date with progress regarding re-opening. Floods and other disasters can happen in any location, and in order to cope it is essential that pharmacies are prepared and have adequate plans for all eventualities. Comprehensive planning will reduce the impact and ongoing costs, and enable the pharmacy to be fully operational as soon as possible.

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