To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2019 to Question 204488 and with reference to (a) waiting times, (b) staff vacancies and (c) medicine supplies, how specifically leaving the EU will lay the foundation for a strong NHS.
The National Health Service budget will increase by £33.9 billion in cash terms, the equivalent of £20.5 billion in real terms, by 2023/24, reflecting that the NHS is this Government’s top spending priority. The additional funding will allow the NHS to get back on the path to delivering core performance standards. It will also drive the reforms that deliver a better and more sustainable NHS with improved care for patients.
In its estimate of the funding required to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, the Department has not assumed any change in investment after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The NHS has confirmed the Long Term Plan is fully costed. The extra funding for the NHS will still apply in all exit scenarios in order to ensure it is there for the long term.
The UK and EU reached an agreement to safeguard the rights of people who have built their lives in the UK and EU, following the UK’s exit from the EU. The agreement will guarantee the rights of the 167,000 EU nationals working in our health and care system. We have been working with health and social care employers across the whole of England to ensure their EU employees are aware of the straightforward and user-friendly EU settlement scheme which will allow them to secure settled status in the UK and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.
The Government remains committed to leaving the EU with a deal. Under the conditions of the Withdrawal Agreement, there will be a two-year Implementation Period within which the Government will negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the EU. During the Implementation Period, there will be no change to the current trading arrangements with the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), meaning the supply of medicines and medical products will continue unhindered.
However, as a responsible Government, we are preparing for all exit scenarios, including the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The Department is enquiring with parties across Government and industry to ensure continuity of medicines supply for patients is maintained. We asked industry to stockpile an additional six weeks’ supply of prescription-only and pharmacy medicines which come to the UK from or via the EU/EEA, over and above usual buffer stocks.
The Government is working to ensure that there is sufficient roll-on, roll-off freight capacity to enable these vital products to continue to move freely in to the UK in a ‘no deal’ scenario. The Department is working closely with the Department for Transport to ensure all medicines and medical products are prioritised on these alternative routes to ensure that the flow of all these products will continue unimpeded after 29 March 2019.
On 7 December 2018, the Department wrote to pharmaceutical companies that supply licensed medicines to the UK from or via the EU/EEA, and/or manufacture medicines in the UK, informing them of the updated reasonable worst-case scenario border disruption planning assumptions and asking them about their current transportation routes and their ability to re-route their supply chains if they currently rely on Dover and/or Folkestone. Since then we have been working closely with those companies to better understand their supply chains and the potential for rerouting in a ‘no deal’ scenario.