An independent report into the emergency response to the Manchester Arena attack has been published.
The review was established by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham following the 22 May attack, which left 22 dead, hundreds injured and many thousands affected.
The panel was tasked with looking at what went well following the attack, as well as identifying the major issues for learning. It was chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, the former Head of the Civil Service.
Lord Kerslake said: “The Manchester Arena attack was devastating for many thousands of people. We must think first and always of the families of those who have been bereaved, those injured, and all those affected by this act of terror. We have ensured that their views have been front and centre throughout this process.
“There is a lot to be proud of in the response to the attack, both for the city region of Greater Manchester, and for the emergency services. The benefits of collaborative working and planning for emergencies were demonstrated to the full. And there were hundreds, if not thousands, of individual acts of bravery and selflessness.
“But it’s also vital to learn the lessons around things that did not go so well. It matters not just for the people of Greater Manchester and beyond who were caught up in the terrible events of that night, but also for places that might be caught up in such an attack in the future.
“I would like to thank all of those who contributed to this report. There was honesty, there was soul-searching, and there was a determination that their insight would benefit others in the future.”
The report highlights several areas that went well including:
- Investment in emergency planning meant people were generally able to act with a high degree of confidence.
- Actions by individuals and organisations on the night demonstrated enormous bravery and compassion.
- Good judgement was exercised by was exercised key emergency personnel at critical points during the evening.
- The civic response was exceptional.
- Vital support and comfort was provided by family liaison officers and bereavement nurses.
- The removal of the deceased from the Arena was treated with care and sensitivity.
It also examines the major issues for learning:
- Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) did not arrive at the scene and therefore played no meaningful role in the response for two hours. That meant a valuable resource was not available to assist on the scene.
- GMFRS must reflect on the poor communication, poor procedures and issues of operational culture which caused its failure to respond properly.
- The set-up of an effective emergency response line for families was seriously hampered by the complete failure of a telephony system provided by Vodafone. This caused considerable distress on the night to families who were frantically seeking to find out more information about what had happened to their loved ones.
- The panel was shocked and dismayed by the accounts of the families of their experiences with some of the media. They spoke of being ‘hounded’ and of a ‘lack of respect’. The Panel believes that for families to have experienced such intrusive and overbearing behaviour at a time of such vulnerability was completely and utterly unacceptable.
- There were multiple duties on the Police Gold Commander and the Force Duty Officer on the night that were extremely wide ranging and testing. The Panel identifies some issues of communication between the Police and other agencies that were a consequence of this.
- The strength of the response for support and care for the families directly affected was not always carried through beyond the early period. In particular, the issue of continuing access to mental health services was highlighted by a number of the families.
The report makes a number of recommendations for the Greater Manchester emergency services, Government, other local and national bodies and the media.
It can be read in full at https://www.kerslakearenareview.co.uk/
We recognise that people may need support following the publication of this report. Rest assured – help is available.
The Manchester Resilience Hub is an enhanced NHS mental health service set up specifically to help people from across the UK who have been affected by the Manchester Arena attack, including concert goers, children, families and professionals. The service is hosted by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, working with other NHS and voluntary sector agencies.
As well as running the wellbeing screening programme for those involved in the attack, the Hub provides a central point for mental health advice and support. It does not provide one-to-one therapy; where this is needed clinicians in the Hub work with other providers across the country to help people receive the care they need from services close to where they live.
People can phone the hub between 9am – 5pm on 03330 095 071 Monday to Friday or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If the team are unable to answer your call immediately, you will have the option of leaving a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible. You can also leave a message outside of opening hours on this number.
If you are struggling to keep yourself well, please seek advice either from your GP, NHS 111 or in an emergency visit A&E at your local hospital.