My colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has had regular discussions with the chairs of all NHS Scotland boards, including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, about their preparations for the United Kingdom’s exiting the European Union. In addition, officials are in regular contact with the health boards. All such discussions have covered a range of risks and issues, including the potential for disruptions to supplies and the impact that those might have on service delivery.
I am sure that the cabinet secretary will agree that we cannot believe a word that Prime Minister Boris Johnson says, especially in relation to his promise that Brexit would bring the national health service an extra £350 million a week. Does the cabinet secretary agree that, in stark contrast to that promise, Brexit uncertainty and the threat of there being no deal have put the NHS and social care under even more pressure? Given the challenges that health boards already face, and with Brexit uncertainty creating staff shortages, the possibility of a lack of medicines and there being less money to invest in the sector, will he outline how the Scottish Government will prioritise our NHS and ensure that health boards get the support that they need in the run-up to the Brexit deadline?
I agree with Johann Lamont. I point out that the publication yesterday of “Scottish Government Overview of ‘No Deal’ Preparations”, to which the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills spoke in the chamber, indicates the priority that we have given the matter. Clearly, there are issues to do with the workforce and with medicines and other crucial supplies.
In addition, we must be realistic with people. We will do everything that we can to avoid disruption, but we cannot do everything. Therefore, people should take the position that a no-deal Brexit, or, indeed, any Brexit, will be immensely damaging.