Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is not well prepared for a hard Brexit, according to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, an association that links different services of the NHS. Hopson explained his fears in a letter addressed on Friday to the heads of NHS England and NHS Improvement, Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton. The Times obtained a copy of the letter and reported on it on Monday.
“In the event of a no-deal or a hard Brexit (…) the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals could be adversely affected” from the first day outside the European Union (EU), the Times reported Hopson as saying. “Disease control and public health coordination could also suffer and our efforts to reassure, retain and attract the European workforce on which the NHS relies could also be jeopardized.”
Should Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, scheduled for March 2019, be done in a chaotic manner, public hospitals in the United Kingdom could face shortages of drugs, Hobson warned. “For as long as that risk remains, it is important that detailed operation planning is undertaken across the NHS,” he recommended. “Yet trusts (local or specific services within the NHS) tell us that their work in this area is being hampered by the lack of visible or appropriate communication” at a more global level.
In fact, “some activities are clearly best done at a national level and, in the view of the trusts, are best coordinated by NHS England or NHS Improvement,” he continued. “However, there has been no formal communication to the trusts from either of your organisations on this issue,” the NHS Providers chief noted in his letter.
Deploring the lack of coordination at the national level, he warned that, in the event of a hard Brexit, there is a risk of “excessive stocks as well as shortages of medication or medical supplies.”
According to The Times, the General Director of NHS England said last month that the authorities were preparing a plan to safeguard supply based on various scenarios, which should be applied in autumn, when the UK’s situation in the negotiations with the EU will be clearer.