The government has said it is “confident” that measures are in place to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical products to the health and social care sectors in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Minister of State for Health Stephen Hammond provided an update for the House of Commons on contingency plans yesterday as the UK prepares to exit the EU next month.
Hammond said: “While we never give guarantees, we are confident that, if everyone – including suppliers, freight companies, international partners and the health and care system – does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products should be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.”
The Minister said the government had taken a “multi-layered approach” to minimise any supply disruption, including providing additional port capacity and building buffer stock and stockpiling products ahead of the EU exit date on March 29.
Around three-quarters of medicines and over half clinical consumables are imported from or via the EU.
Responding to the Minister’s statement Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance and chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called for a Brexit agreement with a transition period. He said a ‘no deal’ in spite of the government’s efforts meant more risk.
“We recognise the enormous effort that has gone into making these plans as robust as possible. However, too much of this is outside of the control of the NHS and our members. That is why we continue to advocate for a negotiated deal to provide maximum protection for patients,” he added.
Concerns have grown over the impact of Brexit on the social care sector as the likelihood of no-deal outcome has risen in recent weeks.
Care stakeholders have warned that Brexit could exacerbate the sector’s recruitment crisis (see Brexit set to worsen workforce crisis in social care, says ADASS).
Home care supplier apetito has, meanwhile, warned it is stockpiling food products to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit.