UK hospitals yet to start planning for no-deal Brexit

LONDON — The majority of U.K. hospitals have yet to make plans for a no-deal Brexit, according to data provided under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act.

A survey of NHS trusts carried out by POLITICO suggests that almost no formal contingency planning for a no-deal scenario has begun at local level. Of 38 trusts in England that responded to a Freedom of Information request to disclose documents relating to preparations and impact assessments on different Brexit scenarios, 35 said they held no such documents.

Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons health committee Sarah Wollaston said NHS organizations urgently need to be told their responsibilities and what action is being taken by national bodies to avoid medicines and equipment shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The former family doctor said an absence of planning for a cliff-edge departure from the EU in March next year could be “completely paralyzing” for the NHS.

“If you’re talking about stockpiling, actually building a refrigerated warehouse doesn’t happen in two weeks. [We need to know] the sheer scale of this, what products it actually affects, and who is actually doing it,” she said, adding that the government needs to provide granular detail — down to plans for the supply of ­individual medicines — in its technical notes on no-deal preparations, which are due to be published in batches.

“There are some medicines, devices … that we can’t make in this country” — Sarah Wollaston MP

Health and pharmaceuticals are two of the topics that will be covered by the first wave of technical notes, due Thursday, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed. 

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