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Documents reveal NHS fears over post-Brexit staff exodus and drug shortages

3 min read

A dossier of internal NHS planning documents has revealed fears of staff shortages in the health service and a hit to medicine supplies after Brexit.

Pro-EU campaign Best for Britain found that almost all of the 35 Trusts which provided communications about the risks of Britain quitting the EU said staffing levels were a worry.

A shortage of medicines and uncertainty around future research projects were also among the main concerns uncovered by the Freedom of Information requests.

Their findings revealed that at least four trusts saw Brexit as a strategic risk to their workings, with The Dudley Group branding a possible no-deal departure “catastrophic”.

The same Trust said critical medicine shortages had already grown since the beginning of the year, with 100 drugs and a product used to diagnose Parkinson's Disease at risk of delivery delays.

Elsewhere, the director of pharmacy at the Midlands Partnership Trust voiced fears in an email chain about the need for a civil contingencies medicines stockpile.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Community Health Services said they were looking into the possibility of “suspending non-critical activities to prop up the priority ones”.

The Royal Bolton warned that Spanish nurses were mulling a return home this year since Spanish regulators do not recognise UK nursing experience.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals bemoaned a lack of EU nationals applying for roles, which they said was crucial to keeping the service open.

And Moorfields Eye Hospital said its funding for research was dependent on grants and funding from the European Union.

Labour MP and Best for Britain campaigner, Dr Paul Williams said: "This is a damning indictment of the Government and its project to leave the EU, showing the extreme pressures facing Britain's hospitals if Brexit goes ahead.

"We shouldn't be in a situation where hospitals across the country are scared about staffing levels and potentially having to cut back services in order to stay afloat.

"These documents show that Brexit presents a real threat to patient care across the country."

Interim CEO of the campaign, Naomi Smith, said: "It's no wonder the Government didn't want local hospitals releasing these Brexit planning documents.

"They're terrifying and highlight the scale of damage to our local communities that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “As a responsible government, we must plan for every eventuality, including no deal, and we have been working closely with partners - including hospital trusts - across the health and social care system and industry to ensure we are as prepared as possible.

“This includes ensuring supplies of medicines and medical products, and securing the future of our EU health and social care workforce.

“We are confident, if everyone does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products should be uninterrupted when we exit the EU.”

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