National report highlights Flu pandemic as top risk

The National Risk Register shows Pandemic Influenza as the most serious threat to national security

The National Risk Register aims to clarify the level of risks and their potential impact on the UK. Local Risk Registers have been produced for some time, but this is the first time that a national version has been made public.

The risk register categorises the impact and probability of a range of threats helping prioritise the planning needed to cope across the country. The Risk Register highlights a number of other key threats including terrorism and flooding.

Over the past few years the Continuity Forum has welcomed the development of local Risk Registers now usually found on Regional or Local Authority websites, but we have noted that these are very rarely used by organisations to guide BCM and Emergency Planning.

One of the KEY benefits of The National Risk Register will be to consolidate information and dispassionately assess threat information. Russell Price, Chairman of the Continuity Forum said ”Overcoming the inertia often found in organisations to properly plan and manage risks though BCM processes and other fundamental activities is difficult at the best of times, but especially so when they are under the kind of financial pressure we are seeing today. The Risk Register provides clear guidance on the range of threats and we hope that will motivate them to ensure their planning addresses these threats.”

Many lay people have decided for them themselves that the threat is theoretical, but over the past 4 years infectious disease experts agree that it is not a matter of if but of when the next flu pandemic will occur.

Nick White is a leading expert on infectious disease and professor of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Bangkok and Oxford University. "It is fortunate that nothing has happened so far but a flu pandemic could be cataclysmic for the human race. If it became as infectious as Spanish flu in 1918/9 it could kill hundreds of millions of people.

We should still be worried," he said. Dr Alan Hay, director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre at the National Centre for Medical Research in the UK, says no-one is writing off the threat from H5N1. "We are in a state of stasis.

There are plenty of infections in birds and there have been isolated human cases in Africa which is worrying. Thankfully, H5N1 does not readily infect people but when it does it can have disastrous consequences."

Currently, for every 10 people who get infected, six will die.

The Risk Register also highlights the impact of other risks such as Flooding and Terrorism. Both of these topics have been highlighted recently following the publication of the PITT REVIEW into Flooding and the National Security Strategy.

Russell Price highlights a common theme throughout “these reports repeatedly call for the need for better co-ordination and action to meet the threats, but although there is clear evidence of the value of preparation, not enough of our organisations have developed planning that will be able to cope” “Our latest research into pandemic preparations to be published in late August confirms this view showing that the majority of organisations are unprepared.”

Download the National Risk Register

The Continuity Forum and the Cabinet Office will be holding a special industry summit on the 26th September addressing Special risks such as Flooding and Pandemic Influenza.

For more information on the Special Risks Summit or to attend please contact Sara McKenna on 020 8993 1599 or by mail at