NHS trusts are warning that the health service is not prepared for a no-deal Brexit and that drug supplies could be affected as a result.
In a private letter sent to Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, and Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, leaked to The Times, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said that in the event of a no-deal or hard Brexit “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals could be adversely affected” from the start.
Furthermore, “public health and disease control co-ordination could also suffer and our efforts to reassure, retain and attract the European workforce on which the NHS relies could also be jeopardised,” he warned, according to the paper.
Hopson reportedly went on to attack the lack of adequate planning for a no-deal Brexit.
“As we approach March 2019 the risk that the UK will be facing a no-deal situation in the Brexit negotiations or a ‘hard Brexit’ with minimal regulatory alignment appears to be growing,” he wrote, as reported by The Times.
“For as long as that risk remains it is important that detailed operation planning is undertaken across the NHS. Yet trusts tell us that their work in this area is being hampered by the lack of visible and appropriate communication.
“Our members have begun planning...but they have hit a problem, in that some activities are clearly best done at a national level and, in the view of trusts, are best co-ordinated by NHS England and NHS Improvement. However, there has been no formal communication to trusts from either of your organisations on this issue,” the reportedly letter states.
A recent Brexit briefing report by the British Medical Association also warned that leaving without a deal could have “potentially catastrophic consequences” for the NHS.
A no-deal departure could have wide ranging and potentially damaging consequences for health services across the UK and Europe, it said, spanning workforce and immigration, access to medicines, reciprocal health care, professional qualifications and patient safety, access to medical radioisotopes, medical research and rare diseases.
“Now that more is known regarding the potential impact of Brexit, the BMA is calling for the public to have a final, informed say on the Brexit deal, including the option to reject the notion of a ‘no deal’ given the serious risks such an outcome carries".
Last month Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that the NHS in England is gearing up to stockpile medicines and blood products in case a deal for leaving the UK is not reached.