In Brief

How the NHS is planning for a no-deal Brexit

Cancelled operations and medicine shortages await the UK if it leaves the EU without a deal, a new report suggests

All forms of Brexit will negatively impact the NHS but a no-deal scenario could prove disastrous, according to a new health policy review.

The study, by leading experts in public health and law, found that leaving the EU without a deal would have negative repercussions on the NHS workforce and financing, and would also adversely affect the availability of medicines and vaccines, and the sharing of information and medical research.

“Our analysis shows that a no-deal Brexit is substantially worse for the NHS than a future involving the Withdrawal Agreement, which provides certainty and continuity in legal relations while the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship is negotiated and put into legal form,” says the paper, published in The Lancet.

Freedom of Information disclosures and board papers uncovered by Sky News reveal that hospitals around the UK are preparing for “shortages of medicines and staff” in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The London North West University Healthcare Trust is reportedly considering increasing security at its pharmacy “because of fears of break-ins” by people attempting to steal supplies.

The pharmaceutical industry has reportedly told the Government that it should “act to prevent medicine stockpiles being depleted by middle-men cashing in on a fall in the pound by selling no-deal supplies to European distributors”.

The Guardian reports that the government has already created a “logistics hub in Belgium” where “vital medical supplies will be stockpiled to stop the NHS running short of equipment if there is a no-deal Brexit”.

The paper adds that the Department of Health and Social Care has “arranged to get NHS supplies – including drugs – into Britain using seven new ferry routes” in order to “bypass the chaos that is widely expected in and around Dover in the event of no deal”.

A number of hospitals and trusts have also stated that they may be forced to cancel or postpone operations and other medical procedures in the event of no deal.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust said a no-deal Brexit would “adversely affect” supply chains, making it necessary for the trust to consider “prioritisation of key services and cancellation of non-critical services”.

Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday that the UK would only leave the EU without a deal with the explicit consent of parliament, but insisted that the option had not been taken off the table.

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