Responding to NHS guidance for England on what should be done to prepare for a no deal Brexit, Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said:
“We can now see that a ‘no deal’ Brexit will force the NHS and social care system into an ‘emergency planning’ mode. No-one wants this to happen and we will continue to urge both the European Commission and the UK government to do everything they can to prevent this coming about.
“The decision to create a National Operational Response Centre shows that we are talking about a national emergency. In addition every hospital and service will need its own emergency plan for maintaining services and supplies, overseen by a Brexit responsible officer.
“We welcome the honesty and detail of this guidance but critical questions remain.
“Our number one concern is the ambiguity over what ‘no deal’ will mean for the manufacture of drugs and devices which are composed of ingredients or parts sourced from the EU and UK.
“The EU has confirmed it will impose customs checks on UK goods coming into the EU. If this creates delays at the borders for months ahead, it could have a devastating impact on the manufacture of drugs across Europe and affect the just-in-time supply chain on which every hospital, clinic and community service relies.
“We also need much more clarity about UK citizens’ access to healthcare in EU countries, and to what extent the EU will work with the UK on public health issues.
“We very much welcome the fact that plans to make sure we have adequate supplies of medicines and devices have moved beyond stockpiling, with a real focus on sufficient air and sea freight capacity to enable medicines and medical products to move freely into the UK.
“Patients will also welcome the commitment that medicines and medical products will be classified as a priority on these alternative routes.
“The guidance is clear that outside the national programme no organisation, clinician or patient should start stockpiling medicines or other supplies – that has to be right as to do so would almost certainly create problems rather than solve them.”