Background

The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union in 2019. 

In the run up to Brexit, the government is continuing to negotiate with its European counterparts on the terms and conditions of the UK's departure from the EU, as well as the continuity arrangements that will come into force immediately afterwards. 

The government has stated that the UK will leave the EU with or without these arrangements - often referred to by the media as an agreed deal - in place. 

 

Preparing for a no-deal Brexit

Like all industries that have links to the continent, the NHS could be impacted by a no-deal Brexit. 

However, the government has stated on numerous occasions that adequate steps are being taken to support the NHS, as well as the UK as a whole, to continue operating as close to normal as possible in the event of leaving the EU without an agreed deal. 

The latest information from the government offers the reassurance that plans have already been put in place to ensure pharmaceutical companies, as well as those companies that produce essential medical devices, have enough stock in reserve to cover any initial period of disruption. 

Essentially, this means that patients who regularly use medicines or products which originate from Europe should still be able to receive their prescriptions as normal. 

Patients should be aware that it is not uncommon for stocks of medicines and equipment to run low from time-to-time and, as a result, healthcare staff across the NHS are already familiar with the steps needed to ensure people carry on getting what they need to make them feel better.

This is a tried and tested system and one that has, in the past, rarely caused patients any significant inconvenience. 

 

Advice for patients 

The government has instructed all hospitals, GPs and community pharmacists not to stock up on extra medicines and equipment in the run up to Brexit, nor to issue patients with longer-than-usual prescriptions.

Patients have also been advised against stockpiling, as doing so could result in there being less medicine and equipment available for others in a similar position. 

Work is ongoing behind-the-scenes to ensure patients carry on receiving treatment as normal, with no reduction in the frequency of their care.

Should the public need to be informed about a change, Swindon CCG, along with colleagues from other NHS organisations, will use all available communication channels to ensure the message is heard. 

 

What is happening in Swindon?

As with all other NHS organisations, Swindon CCG has already been working with its partners across the local health and social care system to plan for every eventuality of a no-deal Brexit.

A number of risk assessments have been completed, looking at possible consequences of leaving without a deal and the subsequent action that would be needed to ensure business can carry on as normal. 

In any case, patients should be reassured that every possible outcome has been planned for, and that everything that can be done in advance to avoid any possible disruption is being done. 

 

Further information

For more details on what the NHS is doing to prepare for Brexit, visit www.england.nhs.uk/eu-exit

For a list of common questions and answers relating to the availability of medicines after Brexit, visit www.england.nhs.uk/eu-exit/medicines/medicines-faq