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21st Aug 2018

NHS boss warns Brexit no-deal could leave hospitals without medicine

An internal letter reveals potential damage to the health service

Oli Dugmore

An internal letter reveals potential damage to the health service

A no-deal Brexit could leave the NHS with a drugs shortage on the day the UK leaves the European Union, an NHS boss has warned internally.

Hospitals could run out of drugs, according to a letter to Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton, the chief executive of NHS England and the chief executive of NHS Improvement respectively, leaked to The Times.

‘NHS Jeopardised’

The letter, from chief exec of NHS Providers Chris Hopson, said: “In the event of a no-deal or hard Brexit, the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals could be adversely affected” on the first day out of the EU.

“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.

“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.

“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.”