NSW Health is working to increase its preparedness to respond to a major infectious disease outbreak. It is also contributing to the development of national policies, strategies and capabilities, which affect its level of preparedness. We found however little evidence that other jurisdictions were significantly further advanced than NSW in preparation and testing of plans for a pandemic. In our view NSW Health needs to balance the costs of over-preparedness and additional capacity that may never be used, against the very significant consequences of under-preparation. It needs to identify the desired level of preparedness for its Area Health Services, set measurable goals and identify key gaps between those goals and current capabilities. It needs to set clear plans for closing those gaps and then sustaining desired levels of preparedness.