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Use and reporting of urgent decisions and emergency powers in the NHS

Within the model standing orders produced by the Department of Health for Strategic
Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts and NHS Trusts, there are provisions for the exercise
of emergency powers to make urgent decisions between board meetings.

In order for urgent decisions to be made and emergency powers to be exercised in
accordance with standard principles of good governance, accountability and transparency,
it is essential that four different steps are followed:

  • The urgent matter is confirmed as being in line with the definitions adopted by the board and as set out in the standing orders;
  • The process in which such powers are exercised are in accordance with the adopted policy
    or as set out in the standing orders;
  • Proper records are kept by the company/trust secretary of the matter, the action taken and in which forum, along with formal minutes of the decision made
  • Formal monitoring and review of the matter is performed by the audit committee and reported to the wider membership.

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