Main Article Content
The requirement for social distancing and other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures introduced during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst simultaneously being able to coordinate the response to a major incident affecting the NHS in London, led the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) (London) Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Team (London EPRR Team) to develop and launch a virtual incident coordination centre. A Microsoft (MS) Teams environment was developed to mimic the established physical London Incident Coordination Centre (LICC), which incorporated virtual MS Excel ‘whiteboard’ tools, accessible to the full incident management team during activation of the Virtual LICC (V-LICC). Extensive virtual training and exercising for the EPRR and on-call teams was completed during the development phase and is ongoing post-launch in December 2020 to ensure the V-LICC remains fit for purpose and staff are comfortable working in the environment. This paper summarises the literature regarding incident coordination and recognises the evidence gap considering the virtual environment. As such this paper contributes to the literature in this field. The paper sets out the conceptualisation, design, development (including training and exercising) and delivery of the V-LICC and ends by highlighting ongoing activity. This paper reflects a rapid development and delivery process, but it is hoped that by sharing the immediate experiences that it may stimulate others to consider virtual coordination opportunities and to share their thoughts. The V-LICC will remain an alternate option for major incident coordination for the NHS in London, even when a return to office-based working continues and access to the physical LICC locations are available.