A joint letter from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer has been issued to health and social care professionals providing them with further advice on ensuring medicine supplies in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, new controls on the entry of goods from the EU into the UK will need to be introduced. This is likely to cause delays at ports of entry and a slow-down in the flow of medicines and medicine supplies into the UK.
The letter outlines what steps are being taken in Scotland to ensure continuity of supply of medicines and medical devices and to support prescribers if shortages arise. The key points in the letter are as follows;
- Preparations have been made to reduce the risks of a “no deal” UK exit from the EU.
- Pharmaceutical companies have increased their UK stock-holding of medicines. Medicines that cannot be stockpiled will be brought into the UK by air.
- The NHS has increased stock-holdings of medical devices and clinical consumables in the National Distribution Centre, and will have access to dedicated shipment channels.
- NHS Boards will work with suppliers who deliver locally to seek to maintain supplies.
- Medical supplies will be given priority for entry into the UK. Once in the UK they will be delivered in the same way as they are delivered now.
- Members of the public, GPs, community pharmacies, hospitals and social care providers should not stockpile.
- Prescriptions should be issued as normal.
- Shortages may occur, but the NHS will manage the situation and if necessary provide advice on suitable alternatives or other treatment options while supply is restored to normal levels.
- Advice will be issued to prescribers and pharmacists about any steps needed to respond to shortages.
- Health and Social Care staff should use existing systems to report shortages.
- Members of the public do not need to do anything new.
Commenting on the letter, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“Brexit is a crisis created by the UK Government, made worse by their refusal to rule out a disastrous ‘no deal’ exit. The reality is the supply of medicines and medical devices to Scotland will be impacted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, meaning there is a risk of shortages.
“As a responsible government we are doing all we can to prepare as much as possible for the consequences of ‘no deal’. The joint letter from our Chief Medical Officer and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer sets out clearly what preparations have been made to mitigate as best we can and provides our health and social care professionals with as much reassurance as possible.
“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal and some shortages occur, the NHS will manage the situation and, if necessary, provide advice on suitable alternatives or other treatment options while supply is restored to normal levels.”