The Sunday Times reported today (03/06/2018) that officials working for David Davis' Brexit Department are preparing for a 'Doomsday Brexit' scenario where the UK could see shortages of food, fuel and essential medicines. The scenario reportedly speaks of Dover collapsing 'on day one' and goes on to describe a situation (reportedly being spoken of as not even the worse-case scenario) where supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland run out of food within days and hospitals would run out of medicine within two weeks.
Whilst the situation described sounds sensationalist, it is worth remembering recent incidents where there has been significant disruption to the distribution network of the UK, such as the recent Beast from the East storm, or the 2005 fuel-protest strikes which saw up to 3,000 fuelling stations running out of fuel within days.
One of the biggest barriers to importing and moving medical supplies is likely to be due to issues regarding medicines regulations, most prominently discussed recent in relation to the services provided by Euratom, the European nuclear material regulation agency. Without regulatory alignment and bilateral trading policies in place, it is widely anticipated that excessive bureaucracy in the initial period of a No-Deal Brexit will pose a significant risk to the supply of essential radioisotopes to the UK. The same issues apply to the supply and movement of essential medicines across Europe in a No-Deal outcome.
Whitehall is yet to explain how these delays will be circumvented in this event.
At NHSforYES we still firmly believe that the safest option for the NHS and for patients is a continuing relationship with Europe so that all the freedoms of EU membership are protected and available to service and supply our health service. This extends from medicines regulation all the way to working arrangements of EU health professionals both currently within the NHS, and those who see a role for themselves in our NHS in the future.