No-deal Brexit ‘still risk to NHS and care sector’

A no-deal Brexit presents risks to the NHS and care homes despite extensive government planning, a watchdog says.

The National Audit Office praised the government for the “enormous amount of work” that had been done but said there were still “significant” gaps.

The extra shipping capacity government was buying to bring medicines into ports other than Dover may not be completely ready by 31 October.

And there was no clear evidence the care sector was ready, the NAO said.

The report raises concerns the sector has not received enough government support.

The government has arranged the stockpiling of supplies for the NHS.

But for the care sector, which is fragmented in that it relies on 24,000 companies to provide services, no central arrangement has been made to stockpile equipment and supplies, such as syringes and needles, most of which come from or via the EU.

When it comes to medicines, however, the supply of which has been organised for both the NHS and care sectors, the report acknowledges the work that has been done.

This includes stockpiling six weeks’ supply of drugs and arranging for emergency supplies to be fast-tracked in – some drugs, including cancer treatments, have a short shelf-life and so cannot be stockpiled.

But the report says it is still not known exactly what level of stockpiling is in place.

More than 12,000 medicines are used by the NHS, and about 7,000 come from or via the EU.

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