Government published its first collection of technical notices to inform industry and public sector bodies on what could happen if Britain leaves the EU next March without an agreement. Contributor Niall Dickson, Co-chair – Brexit Health Alliance.
For health and care, these included papers on batch testing medicines; labelling tobacco products and e-cigarettes; ensuring blood and blood products are safe; the quality and safety of tissues, organs and cells; how medicines, medical devices and clinical trials would be regulated; and submitting regulatory information on medical products.
The Secretary of State has written to the health and care system, while guidance has also been issued for the pharmaceutical industry and suppliers of medical devices, which include information on stockpiling of medicines.
The Brexit Health Alliance – which brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health bodies to safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare and research they rely on – has been working with the government for some time to inform this guidance.
Commenting on the publication of the government guidance on preparing for a no-deal Brexit scenario, Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said: “The government has recognised that we can hope for the best but must prepare for the worst. Today’s guidance is a welcome and important step towards providing the assurance that patients need. We welcome the moves towards national stockpiling of medicines which should make sure patients will not experience delays in treatment should there be no deal.
“There is more work to be done but identifying every medicine and where there may be vulnerabilities is a critical first step. The advice that neither patients nor healthcare organisations need to stockpile is also welcome. This is a time for planning not panic.
The NHS will now want to see more detailed operational advice and all the Alliance’s members will continue to work with the UK Government and the devolved administrations to make sure these issues are addressed in future guidance and that patients will continue to receive the treatment they need whatever the outcome of the negotiations.
“As we have seen time and again, the NHS is fantastic when it comes to dealing with emergencies and with the right planning and support at national level it can deal with this challenge. These are unprecedented times and it is critically important everyone responsible for front line care is given the tools they need to deliver.
“Of course the real prize must be no disruption in supply to or from the UK – it may be acceptable to argue about delays to some consumer products at the border – it cannot be acceptable when patients’ lives are put at risk. We cannot afford to get this wrong.”