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Exercise Cygnus report

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Dear Public Health England,

In 2016, there was a cross-Government tier one pandemic influenza exercise called Cygnus. I believe this was carried out in October, between 18th and 20th.

As I understand, this was coordinated out by the Department of Health.

Please provide:

- the report you produced as a result of Exercise Cygnus, or other relevant analysis of how the exercise was conducted, its conclusions and recommendations for change.
- reports or other analysis relating to your "structured debriefing" following the exercise.

Yours faithfully,
Helen Thomas
07894 005 118

FOI, Public Health England

OFFICIAL
Dear Helen Thomas,

We acknowledge receipt of your email and request for information, which will be treated as a request for information under statutory access legislation.

Please note that requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) will receive a response within 20 working days from the day following the date of receipt of your request.

If the request is for your personal data (i.e. a Subject Access Request) under the Data Protection Act, then we will respond  within one month of the receipt of the request.

Kind Regards,

FOI Team
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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Dear Sir/Madam,

My request is now overdue. Please could you provide an update as to the status of this request.

Subsequent to my original request, I have been told that PHE produced a national exercise report following the Cygnus Exercise dated 13th July 2017. I have also been told that PHE has instructed other bodies to reject my request for this report. The government has repeatedly said it wants to be open and transparent with the public regarding the current health crisis. This document is a crucial part of the national preparedness for exactly this situation.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Thomas

Dear Public Health England,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Public Health England's handling of my FOI request 'Exercise Cygnus report'. This is case ref 1202.

I appreciate this is a very busy time and that there are delays in handling freedom of information requests. This is why I am only now requesting a review, despite this case being long overdue.

On 3rd April 2020, I received a message from a PHE FOI officer which stated "We are minded to disclose the material and we are currently in discussions with the relevant organisations regarding the release."

ON 22nd April 2020, I received a message from a PHE FOI officer which responded to my request for an update with the following: "We are currently working on this request and expect to provide a response within the next week."

It is now nearly four weeks since I received that message. On 6th May 2020, I was told: "Whilst we are keen to respond to your request, it is currently under consideration."

You have told me you are minded to disclose the material and that, as of April 22nd, you expected to be able to do so imminently. While I understand the pressures of dealing with the current crisis, this is a report which is of vital public interest in understanding our level of preparedness for a pandemic such as this.

Yours faithfully,
Helen Thomas

FOI, Public Health England

Dear Helen Thomas,

We acknowledge receipt of your email and request for an Internal Review.

Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for providing guidance and advice to government and front-line services for all aspects of public health.  It is a designated Category 1 responder organisation under the Civil Contingency Act and this specifically includes the COVID-19 response, providing clinical expertise and wider public health advice and guidance across national and local government, the NHS and third sector.  As such, you may experience delays when making statutory information access requests during the pandemic.

We will aim to address all requests promptly and within the required response timeframes.  However when we are unable to meet the response timeframe we will keep requesters updated on a revised expected timescale for a response to their request. The Information Commissioner recognises this position in its recent guidance, see link: https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protectio...

Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920 
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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FOI, Public Health England

OFFICIAL
Dear Helen Thomas

We acknowledge your request for an internal review and sincerely apologise for the delay in getting a response to you in the time frame we initially specified.

We are currently working on your request and apologise for the additional time taken as we are giving full consideration to your request liaising with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Cabinet Office to be able to provide you with a substantive response.

Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for providing guidance and advice to government and front-line services for all aspects of public health. It is a designated Category 1 responder organisation under the Civil Contingency Act and this specifically includes the COVID-19 response, providing clinical expertise and wider public health advice and guidance across national and local government, the NHS and third sector. As such, you may experience delays when making statutory information access requests during the pandemic. The Information Commissioner recognises this position in its recent guidance, see link: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/dat...

We again, thank you for your patience and will keep you informed of the timings.

Kind regards,
Freedom of Information Manager
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920 
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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FOI, Public Health England

1 Attachment

Dear Helen Thomas

Please find attached Public Health England's response to your request.

We apologise for the time taken to provide the response. Due to the pandemic we are dealing with a high volume of requests at this time.

Kind Regards
FOI Team
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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FOI, Public Health England

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    370 IR Linked to 1202 Report produced as a result of Cygnus influenza exercise.pdf

    133K Download View as HTML

Dear Helen Thomas,

Please find attached Public Health England's response to your request. Please accept our apologies for the delay in our response.

Kind Regards,

FOI Team
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920 
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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FOI, Public Health England

Dear Ms Thomas

 

Further to our response of 17 August 2020 our position has changed.

 

PHE can confirm it does hold this information. However, the information is
exempt under section 21 of the FOI Act because it is reasonably accessible
by other means, and the terms of the exemption mean that we do not have to
consider whether or not it would be in the public interest for you to have
the information. However for your convenience we have included the
following link:-

 

[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

 

Kind regards,

FOI Team

Public Accountability Unit

Public Health England

[2][Public Health England request email]

[3]www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

 

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References

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2. mailto:[Public Health England request email]
3. http://www.gov.uk/phe

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Helen Thomas please sign in and let everyone know.