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We are running out of time to eliminate the disruption of a no deal Brexit that could put patients at risk, says NHS Confederation

Responding to today’s Written Ministerial Statement regarding a 'no deal' Brexit, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

It is good to see the government planning for the worst - but we are running out of time to eliminate the disruption of a no deal that could put patients at risk.

“Around three quarters of our medicines and over half our clinical consumables come from, or via, the European Union and so it is vital that the supply chain continues to work. Medicines also go from the UK to Europe.

"If there is no deal or agreement of any kind with the EU, patients in the UK and Europe would be placed at risk. To make sure they are protected we need an agreement with a transition period.

"We do recognise the enormous effort that has gone into making these plans as robust as possible. But the truth is that much of this is outside of the control of the NHS and our members; that is why we continue to advocate a negotiated deal which will provide maximum protection for patients.

In addition, Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) – the trade group representing the branded pharmaceutical industry in the UK – said:

“Pharmaceutical companies have been doing everything in their power to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU. Our members have been increasing stocks, duplicating testing and planning for alternative routes where possible.

“But some things are outside of their control. Additional Government secured freight capacity was key to company planning for a ‘no deal’ in March and this must be available to companies again as they prepare for the end of October. Our members will be pleased that the Government are taking steps to put this capacity in place again and await further information about how this will work in practice.

“However, it is extremely challenging for pharmaceutical companies to be continually preparing for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Leaving the EU with a deal in place remains the best way to minimise any potential disruption to medicines supplies.”