Matt Hancock writes to health and care system on no-deal Brexit planning

Matt Hancock has told staff that patients will continue to have access to medicines, medical products and high-quality care in the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit.

In his letter to NHS staff, the Health and Social Care Secretary says:

  • hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies in the UK do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional drugs or medical devices
  • there is no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions
  • medical staff should do all they can to make patients aware that they do not need to store additional NHS medicines or medical products at home

Read the full text of the letter from Matt Hancock to NHS staff.

Commenting on the Government’s publication of technical notices relating to a no deal Brexit and healthcare, Mark Dayan, policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said:

“It makes absolute sense for the Government to issue guidance to the NHS and its suppliers on how they should prepare for a no deal Brexit, even though avoiding such a scenario should remain the number one priority.

“It is hard to argue with the measures announced today on stockpiling drugs and devices, letting companies keep inspecting medicines in the EU, and discouraging individual NHS hospitals or GP surgeries from storing their own emergency supplies. But a no deal ultimately means a leap into the unknown – so even the best laid plans will not avoid uncertainty for the NHS.

“Manufacturers will still have to adapt to new delays and requirements, which could affect the ingredients even for medicines made in the UK, while NHS leaders will face a huge task planning special flights and storage facilities. It will be difficult to guess the scale and duration of any resulting problems. There will be an upfront cost of hundreds of millions which the NHS cannot be left to shoulder alone.

“What’s more, leaving without a deal could rob the NHS of vital workers at a time when staff shortages are rife. No deal on the rights of UK citizens abroad could cost the NHS millions and require almost a thousand more hospital beds if expat pensioners were forced to return to the UK.

“It has been said that no deal is better than a bad deal. But in the case of the NHS, any deal we are likely to get is better than no deal at all.”