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No-deal Brexit still threatening medicine supplies

by Ace Damon
Some medicines could be in short supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The threat to the supply of vital drugs still remains in the case of a Brexit without agreement, according to the National Audit Office (NOA).

He said that with just five weeks to October 31, when the UK is due to leave the EU, ministers still have a "significant amount" of work to be done to secure supplies, with the Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC). ) lack of complete information on storage levels.

Of the 12,300 drugs currently licensed for use in the UK, about 7,000 come to Britain from or through the EU – with the vast majority being sent to the Channel.

Trade diverted from Dover before Brexit

Under the government's "worst case" scenario, the flow of goods could be reduced by 40 to 60 percent on the first day of a break without compromise, taking a year to recover to near current levels.

NOA said: "The department has done a great job of preparing for a no-deal exit. However, there is still a significant amount to be done before October 31.

"In the event of a no-deal exit, the department would be working in a highly uncertain environment and operating all elements of its plan would be an extremely demanding task."

He added that additional government-chartered freight capacity for shipping priority goods across the Channel may not be fully available by the end of November – a month after leaving the UK.

While DHSC said it needed the equivalent of an additional 2,326 heavy vehicle seats per week, the NAO said the time was "extremely limited" for transportation to be ready for Brexit day.

Meanwhile, DHSC is setting up its own courier service for particularly urgent freight and is renting warehouse space for manufacturers to stock up on medicines and supplies for clinical suppliers.

Another concern of NOA was the lack of information on how many nursing homes and other social care
Vendors followed DHSC's recommendations on "robust" contingency planning for non-agreed exit.

No-deal Brexit still threatening medicine supplies

Trade diverted from Dover before Brexit

NAO chief Gareth Davies said the Civil Service faced an "unprecedented challenge" in preparing for Brexit "in the midst of great uncertainty."

"In this report, I record the progress made by DHSC, working with others, to ensure continued supply to the health and welfare sectors should the UK leave without an agreement with the EU on October 31," he said.

"In doing so, I have to point out the work that still needs to be done and the risks that remain."

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The DHSC said "substantial" drug stocks were accumulated and "increasing every day."

"We want to assure patients that we are doing everything necessary to ensure they can access the medicines they need after Brexit on October 31," a spokesman said.

"Combined with other measures, including new transportation routes coming soon, we can help ensure patients continue to receive the highest quality of care just as they do now."

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