Communicable disease outbreak management: Operational guidance

Publication Date: 15th August 2014

Subject: Public health

A revised and updated version of the operational guidance for managing outbreaks of communicable disease has been issued and sets out in detail the roles and responsibilities of key agencies during outbreak investigations and the agreed procedures which can ensure successful implementation. The PDF produced by Public Health England (PHE) with input from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health can be found here.

Graham Jukes, CIEH Chief Executive, said: ‘As it states in the introduction - The primary objective in outbreak management is to protect public health by identifying the source and implementing control measures to prevent further spread or recurrence of the infection.

‘Environmental health practitioners are a key element of the health protection workforce and this guidance makes clear their roles and responsibilities, whether they are working in local authorities, health protection teams or in any part of the multidisciplinary system we will reply upon to provide an effective response.’

Similar guidance was issued in 2011 and this updated version reflects the changes within PHE and across the public health landscape and includes:

  • updated policy context across all relevant agencies
  • reference to relevant PHE policies and documents including the National Incident Response Plan and Concept of Operations
  • detailed descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of each organisation, updated to reflect post transition landscape
  • more information on legal aspects of outbreak management
  • links to guidance on the constructive debrief and lessons identified process

Ian Gray, CIEH Principal Policy Officer, has been closely involved in the development of the guidance and has ensured that the expectations and concerns of CIEH members have been taken account of. He said: ‘The investigation and management of outbreaks and implementation of necessary control measures requires multidisciplinary expertise and collaboration. It is important that people involved understand not only their own roles and responsibilities, but also what they can expect from others. This operational guidance sets out in detail the roles of the key agencies, the responsibilities of their key personnel and the agreed procedures which can ensure successful implementation. Communicable disease outbreaks can have serious consequences not only for individuals, but also communities and businesses. I have been particularly careful to ensure that proper account is taken of the statutory responsibilities of the local authority and the need to secure and preserve evidence of possible offences in appropriate situations.’

Notes to editors:

  • For media enquiries please contact Brian Cowan on 020 7827 5922 or 07721 456727 or email
  • Spokespeople are available for comment

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health practitioners representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. CIEH ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved.
  • Environmental health practitioners working in local government are responsible, for assessing public health and environmental health risks to communities and individuals and ensuring environmental protection is maintained
  • For more information visit

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