National Audit Office report highlights risk and uncertainty in health and social care ‘no deal’ Brexit planning
27 September 2019
- The National Audit Office has published a report titled Exiting the EU: supplying the health and social care sectors, which finds that ministers still have a "significant amount" of work to do to ensure the continued supply of vital medicines to the NHS in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
- It found that there were still "risks", with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) lacking full information about levels of stockpiling.
- It said additional freight capacity chartered by the government for shipping priority goods across the Channel may not be fully available until the end November.
- The DHSC also did not know how many nursing homes and other social care providers had followed advice on "robust" contingency planning for ‘no deal’.
Responding to Exiting the EU: supplying the health and social care sectors published by the National Audit Office, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
“This report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows the level of risk and uncertainty that remains for health and care services in a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome.
“While trusts are doing all they can to prepare and minimise any disruption, they are very reliant on effective, resilient and coordinated planning across government departments. This report makes it clear that although significant work to prepare has been undertaken, the NAO is still not satisfied that these plans will be in place in time for exit day. This will not reassure frontline NHS leaders.
While trusts are doing all they can to prepare and minimise any disruption, they are very reliant on effective, resilient and coordinated planning across government departments.Deputy Chief Executive
“Protecting the supply of medicines, particularly those that cannot be stockpiled or substituted easily, and medical devices is critical to ensure that care for patients and service users isn’t affected. Trusts have the same concerns about the supply of non-clinical goods, including food to hospitals. The government must continue in its efforts to provide clarity and reassurance for the NHS and the public. There would be no return to business as usual in the event of a ‘no deal’, and so ongoing dialogue, support and contingency planning is essential.
There would be no return to business as usual in the event of a ‘no deal’, and so ongoing dialogue, support and contingency planning is essential.Deputy Chief Executive
“It is also worrying that the Department of Health and Social Care is not confidently able to measure the preparation that has been undertaken by social care providers. The social care sector is in a precarious state. Millions of vulnerable people will turn to the NHS for greater support should the sector be negatively impacted in terms of staffing and supplies.
“Any disruption from a ‘no deal’ exit – which could be just over a month away - will only add to the very severe pressure that NHS trusts are facing as they gear up for what is likely to be a very difficult winter ahead.”