UK businesses unprepared for severe disruption from flu pandemic
18 June 2007
London, UK. Most companies in the UK have inadequate plans
to protect their businesses in the event of loss of staff during a flu
pandemic even though most recognise they will suffer significant financial
loss, according to a recent survey.
Research conducted by YouGov shows
that despite being aware of the severe implications of an impending
influenza pandemic, most bosses and managers believe their companies are
ill-prepared. The research was sponsored by Roche Products Ltd, makers of
the antiviral product Tamiflu.
It has been estimated that the overall economic impact of a pandemic
strike could cost the UK £95 billion, and the World Health Organisation
(WHO) and other health experts are also forecasting that we are even closer
to an influenza pandemic than we have ever been in the last forty years.
In the survey, over three-quarters (79%) of UK bosses admitted that their
company had insufficient plans or were unaware of plans in place to protect
their workers and annual turnover from the impact of a pandemic strike.
While 40% of UK bosses and managers predicted that over 1/3 of their
workforce would be absent from work due to sickness, or at home looking
after friends and family, if an influenza pandemic hits the UK.
in five (22%) managers say that their business is prepared for a pandemic,
and nearly three quarters (71%) also predicted they will suffer moderate to
substantial financial losses due to mass employee absenteeism caused by a
Russell Price, Chairman of the Continuity Forum claims: "This research shows
that that despite the warnings the vast majority of firms do not have
sufficient plans in place to respond to the very considerable impact a
pandemic would cause. By failing to invest in sensible measures to protect
the organisation, many businesses are exposing themselves to potentially
serious difficulties which would directly impact on their ability to operate
effectively, if at all and even, in many instances, force their closure."
The financial services and medical/health service sectors are the most
prepared for an influenza pandemic, with 30% and 29% respectively, believing
they have sufficient plans in place, with just 16% of other industries, who
admit to having plans in place. The research also revealed managers surveyed
in larger firms (250+ staff) are better prepared to deal with the impact of
an influenza pandemic, with nearly half (44%) reporting plans in place.
The research also identified significant gaps in the fundamental steps that
businesses need to take to ensure they are prepared, according to managers
who have influenza business continuity plans:
- 85% have no plans or are unaware of plans to stockpile future
vaccines to protect their employees
- 82% have no plans or are unaware of plans to stockpile antiviral
medication to protect their employees
- 45% as yet have no plans or aware of plans in place to equip
employees to work from home
- 40% would currently be unable to provide online/Internet solutions
John Melville, Managing Director of Roche Products Ltd in the UK
said: "It is imperative that organisations start the business continuity
planning process for an influenza pandemic as soon as possible. Roche is
committed to supporting UK businesses to prepare for an influenza
pandemic and believe that as manufacturers of Tamiflu [oseltamivir], we
have a responsibility to do so. We are currently working with external
advisers to finalise our own internal pandemic plan, part of which,
includes provision of antiviral drug to all employees and members of