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NHS to stockpile drugs in preparation for no-deal Brexit

Published on 25/07/18 at 03:46pm
Matt Hancock

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has said that the NHS is preparing to stockpile medicines to safeguard against a no-deal Brexit.

While the Conservative party politician said he was confident that a deal would be made, Hancock told the Health Select Committee that he had met with medical industry leaders in order to “accelerate” preparations for a hard Brexit, as he noted that it was “responsible to prepare for all outcomes”.

Although both the British and EU governments have indicated that they intend to make a deal, the UK have asserted that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The stance has led to widespread concern across a range of industries, as supply lines face significant disruption in the case of a no deal exit. The stockpiling of medicines is intended to form a part of the government’s precautions against an abrupt exit from the EU.

The Health Secretary commented: “We are working right across government to ensure that the health sector and the industry are prepared and that people's health will be safeguarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This includes the chain of medical supplies, vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables, blood products. And I have asked the department to work up options for stockpiling by industry. We are working with industry for the potential need for stockpiling in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

He added “We are also focusing on the importance of a continuous supply of medicines that have a short shelf life - so some of the medicines most difficult to provide in a no-deal scenario where there is difficult access through ports will need to be flown in. I hope that even under a no-deal scenario that there will still be smooth movement in through ports.”

The statement comes as AstraZeneca announced this month that they would increase their stockpiles of drugs by 20% in preparation for a no deal Brexit, while the European Medicines Agency identified significant gaps in the pharmaceutical industry’s preparedness for Brexit.

Labour's shadow health minister Justin Madders has warned that: “We need a Brexit deal which puts patients first but now we know that the NHS is having to stockpile medicines because of this Government's chaotic handling of Brexit. This is the terrifying reality of this Government's failure to prioritise the NHS in the Brexit negotiations. NHS patients and their families need urgent reassurances from ministers about how they're going to avoid this doomsday scenario.”

Louis Goss

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