The government is working with pharmaceutical companies, suppliers and the NHS to make sure patients continue to receive the medication they need should the UK leave the European Union without an agreed continuity deal.

Around three quarters of the medicines, and more than half the devices and one-use medical products, such as syringes, that the NHS uses come into the UK via the EU.

The government has analysed the supply chain, made plans to reduce the risk of disruption, and given instructions to pharmaceutical companies to ensure they have adequate stocks to cope with any potential delays at the border.

We are confident that, if everyone does what they should do, the supply of medicines and other medical supplies will be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.

This means if patients are prescribed with medicines or special equipment for a health condition, they should still be able to get treatment from their GP or pharmacist.

Occasionally, temporary shortages of specific medicines are experienced and, if this happens, doctors will prescribe patients with the best alternative to their usual medication.

This is a tried and tested system.

If there are any shortages of particular medicines after Brexit, the same system will be in place: doctors will advise patients of the best alternatives.

This is a UK-wide policy, and the Department of Health and Social Care in England is working with its counterparts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to deliver the uninterrupted supplies people expect.


Update from Dr Keith Ridge

Click here to view the open-letter from Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, which outlines the steps already taken by the government to protect the continuity of supply of medicines.