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A no-deal Brexit could prevent disease control and leave hospitals with drugs shortages



brexit bus nhs
Jack Taylor /

  • The UK could be adversely affected by Brexit from “day
    one,” according to a leaked letter from health chief Chris
  • Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, claimed that
    disease control could suffer and warned it would be harder for
    the UK to attract European workers.
  • NHS England said they were working “across the NHS to
    ensure plans were well progressed.”
  • MP Sarah Wollaston said it was “more urgent than ever
    that all NHS organisations, patients and carers can see the
    full consequences and costs of hard Brexit and begin to make

LONDON — Disease prevention would worsen and hospitals would risk
running out of drugs under a no-deal Brexit, according to a
leaked letter from NHS chiefs to ministers.

The letter was from NHS Providers, the association of NHS trusts,
and accuses ministers of failing to prepare adequately for all
possible Brexit outcomes.

Significantly, it warned that even a hard Brexit where the UK
does strike a deal would risk damaging the UK’s healthcare sector
significantly, given the risks to the certification of medicines
or isotopes used in cancer treatments across the EU.

The letter warned that “from day one after the UK leaves the EU,
the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals could be adversely
affected in the event of no deal or hard Brexit.”

It continued: “Public health and disease control coordination
could also suffer, and our efforts to reassure, retain and
attract the European workforce on which the NHS relies could also
be jeopardized.”

The letter was sent on Friday to Simon Stevens, chief executive
of NHS England, and Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS
Improvement, with several ministers copied in.

An NHS England spokesperson told the BBC: “We will be working
with our colleagues and partners across the NHS to ensure plans
are well progressed and will provide the NHS with the support it

The Department for Health refused to comment on the story.

Sarah Wollaston
Sarah Wollaston


‘Patients need to know the full consequences of Brexit’

The news comes as Brexit secretary Dominic Raab travels to
Brussels on Tuesday for the latest round of talks with his EU
counterpart Michel Barnier. While Raab says a deal is the most
likely outcome, he has said preparations for a “no-deal” scenario
is the most responsible approach.

The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019, and a number of
issues in talks remain unresolved, meaning the prospect of both
sides failing to reach a deal has increased significantly.

Sarah Wollaston MP, who is chair of the Health and Social Care
select committee, condemned the government’s unwillingness to
publish its contingency planning.

“As the prospect of a no-deal and no-transition hard Brexit
becomes more likely, it is more urgent than ever that all NHS
organisations, patients and carers can see the full consequences
and costs of hard Brexit and begin to make preparations,”
Wollaston, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said.

“This is about far more than WTO tariffs and will have far
reaching consequences for the NHS, social care, public health and
our life sciences as well as those who depend on services,” she

FILE PHOTO: An NHS logo is displayed outside a hospital in London, Britain May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
NHS logo is displayed outside a hospital in


“Brexit has officially moved the dial to Government negligence”

TheBest for Britain supporter, Labour MP and former NHS worker
Darren Jones said: “Every hospital up and down the country is
facing a Brexit catastrophe as no deal threatens the NHS.

“How on earth we’ve ended up in a situation where the Government
needs to ensure Britain is fully prepared to protect the lives of
patients relying on vital medicines in this way is quite beyond

“Brexit has officially moved the dial from Government
incompetence to Government negligence.”

“This shows, starkly, why we need a People’s Vote on the final
Brexit deal,” he continued.

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