Brexit medicine alert for Tay­side

Health of­fi­cials warn pa­tients could be de­nied drugs

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - STE­FAN MORKIS

Pa­tients in Tay­side could be de­nied medicine and or­gans for trans­plant be­cause of Brexit, NHS Tay­side has warned.

The health board has set up a spe­cial Brexit Co-Or­di­nat­ing Group to an­a­lyse the po­ten­tial risks of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union and ways to ad­dress them.

A free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­sponse re­veals the po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic con­se­quences of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union, par­tic­u­larly un­der a “no-deal” sce­nario.

The health board warns it could face staff short­ages as well as re­stricted ac­cess to medicines and trans­plant or­gans.

NHS Tay­side fears Brexit could lead to short­ages of staff, medicines and even or­gans for trans­plant.

The health board has set up a “Brexit Co-or­di­nat­ing Group” to as­sess the po­ten­tial im­pact of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union and the best ways to re­spond.

Early anal­y­sis by the health board sug­gests there will be few ar­eas un­af­fected by the split with the EU, par­tic­u­larly if there is a “no-deal Brexit”.

This would see the UK crash out of the EU on March 29 next year with­out a tran­si­tionary exit pe­riod.

In a re­sponse to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest, NHS Tay­side said Brexit would have an im­pact on its work­force, par­tic­u­larly if non-UK EU na­tion­als and Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area (EEA) na­tion­als leave the coun­try.

It also warned it could re­duce the avail­abil­ity of med­i­cal ra­di­ol­o­gists and make it harder to source blood prod­ucts and or­gans for trans­plant.

NHS Tay­side also warns there could be an im­pact on the sup­ply and reg­u­la­tion of medicines and says some pa­tients may be de­nied the best “clin­i­cal knowl­edge and ex­per­tise” when be­ing treated for rare and com­plex con­di­tions.

The fear is that a post-Brexit NHS will no longer be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in Euro­pean Ref­er­ence Net­works, which al­low in­for­ma­tion and best prac­tice to be shared across the con­ti­nent.

NHS Tay­side has set up a ded­i­cated in­tranet page to keep its staff in­formed about Brexit and how it may af­fect them.

Scot­land’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Cather­ine Calder­wood said last month “de­tailed plans” had been drawn up to en­sure the NHS copes af­ter Brexit. She was re­act­ing af­ter the group rep­re­sent­ing hospi­tals and am­bu­lance ser­vices in Eng­land said a no-deal Brexit would present an im­me­di­ate risk to health ser­vices.

An NHS Tay­side spokes­woman said: “NHS Tay­side at­tracts ex­per­tise and skills from around the globe. We greatly value the con­tri­bu­tion of all our staff. We recog­nise that many have a num­ber of pro­fes­sional and per­sonal con­cerns and ques­tions fol­low­ing the UK’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union.

“To en­sure our EU staff and their fam­i­lies have up-to-date in­for­ma­tion, sup­port and ad­vice around Brexit ar­range­ments, we is­sued Home Of­fice ad­vice and guid­ance for EU Cit­i­zens work­ing in Scot­land to all staff this week.

“A ded­i­cated in­tranet page was also launched to keep staff in­formed. A Brexit Co-or­di­nat­ing Group has been es­tab­lished to over­see de­vel­op­ment of an im­pact as­sess­ment and ac­tion plan.

“The group will seek clar­ity, es­tab­lish­ing facts and en­sur­ing our EU staff are kept up­dated on de­vel­op­ments as and when they hap­pen.”

Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man said the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment shared the con­cerns over the po­ten­tial im­pact of Brexit on the NHS and health sec­tor. She said: “That is why it is work­ing with health boards to en­sure they are as pre­pared as pos­si­ble if we leave the EU with­out a deal. We have been clear that we do not want Brexit to hap­pen.

“If the UK Gov­ern­ment presses on with leav­ing the sin­gle mar­ket and the cus­toms union then they do so know­ing this will harm our NHS – par­tic­u­larly for ac­cess to medicines and vi­tal plasma prod­uct sup­plies sourced from the EU.”

Par­lia­ment and Press As­so­ci­a­tion. Pic­tures: Scot­tish

Cather­ine Calder­wood, above, and Jeane Free­man.

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