A damning leaked warning has revealed National Health Service chiefs fear RUNNING OUT of drugs in a chaotic No Deal Brexit.
NHS Providers, the body for individual hospital trusts, sounded the alarming alert on Friday in a private memo to Tory ministers and the head of the NHS.
The body’s chief executive Chris Hopson declared there is a lack of communication nationally about the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal.
“Without national planning and coordination, there could be both stockpiles and shortages of medicines and medical devices,” he wrote.
“Responsibility for certain preparations, such as securing specialist storage facilities and developing protocols for maintaining supplies of medicines with a short shelf life, can only sit at a national level.”
Mr Hopson warned the “entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals” could be hit “from day one” if the UK leaves without a deal on 29 March 2019.
He warned contingency plans need putting in place from “early autumn” – potentially before Britain knows whether it has a deal in mid-October.
“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 jeopardised,” he warned.
“Trusts are understandably concerned that, if things continue as they are, they will be left with the fallout.”
Mr Hopson’s letter was sent to officials including NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons Health Committee and backer of the anti-Brexit People’s Vote campaign, said: “For the Government to proceed without setting out the risks and benefits of the terms of Brexit and seeking informed consent would be like a surgeon relying on consent to surgery obtained two years previously without their patient knowing whether this would involve a few toes or their whole leg.
“The Government must seek informed consent through a People’s Vote, without it there is no mandate for such radical and dangerous surgery.”
Labour Remain-backing MP Ben Bradshaw added: “Brexit is already causing serious damage to our NHS, and it’s set to get much worse.
“Now the professionals running our hospitals are warning that Brexit and the Government’s incompetent and chaotic handling of it, could mean vital EU staff leaving, medical supplies needing to be stockpiled and disease prevention suffering.
“No-one voted for this shambles and they certainly didn’t vote to damage our NHS. Revelations like this only reinforce the need for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.”
The government is ramping up plans for a no deal Brexit with less than two months to go before a crucial EU summit in October.
The first tranche of 80 ‘technical notices’ preparing for No Deal will be released on Thursday with a speech by Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – who is spending the next two days negotiating in Brussels.
Mr Raab tweeted today: “I am looking forward to meeting Michel Barnier today, to progress our negotiations on the outstanding Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland and the Future Relationship.
“Confident we can strike a deal that’s good for the UK and our EU partners.”
But one drugs firm is already stockpiling a 14-week supply and Mr Hancock has warned medicines could have to be flown in if there’s no deal.
Talks are still deadlocked over crucial issues around customs – which were supposed to have been resolved in a plan PM Theresa May drew up at her country retreat Chequers.
The Chequers plan prompted the resignations of Tory big beasts Boris Johnson and David Davis, and is still opposed in some Tory quarters – not to mention by the EU.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell today urged warring Tories to unite and rally round the Chequers plan.
He warned that the increasingly polarised positions of the factions are not “generally acceptable to the wider public”.
“People have to wake up to what the alternatives are,” he told London Playbook. “I think there is a growing reality that, other than extreme positions, there isn’t an alternative.”
An NHS spokeswoman said: “Ensuring the NHS is prepared for every potential outcome of Brexit is a priority.
“Government leads on contingency planning for different scenarios and we are working with them on this and ensuring NHS voices are heard.”