NHS: Drugs and Medical Equipment

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 4th March 2019.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Independent, Liverpool, Wavertree

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference article entitled, How will Brexit affect health services in the UK? An updated evaluation, published in the Lancet on 27 February 2019,when his Department plans to publish the (a) medicines and (b) medical devices for which his Department has supply concerns in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Independent, Liverpool, Wavertree

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to tarticle entitled, How will Brexit affect health services in the UK? An updated evaluation’, published in the Lancet on 27 February 2019, what steps his Department is taking to ensure access to insulin in the event that the UK leaves the EU (a) with and (b) without a withdrawal agreement.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Independent, Liverpool, Wavertree

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the article entitled, How will Brexit affect health services in the UK? An updated evaluation, published on 27 February 2019, whether his Department’s stockpiling contingency plans will ensure medicinal supplies are secured in the long term after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Department is working closely with trade bodies, product suppliers, the health and care system in England, the devolved administrations and Crown Dependencies, to make detailed plans to ensure the continuation of the supply of medical products to the whole of the United Kingdom in the event of a ‘no deal’ European Union exit.

We have also assessed contract risks associated with potential EU exit in the broader National Health Service and within the devolved administrations, and are working with suppliers to ensure adequate mitigations are in place for non-clinical goods and services (e.g. hospital food, laundry, IT contracts etc).

The key risk to supply is reduced traffic flow at the short straits crossing (i.e. between Calais and Dover or Folkestone), which is where the majority of medicines and other medical products imported from the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) come from. Many companies across all sectors, have already taken measures to protect their own supply chain to avoid the possible delays at the Dover Straits. The Department for Transport has also procured additional ‘roll on roll off’ freight capacity equivalent of around an extra 2,200 heavy goods vehicle per week to help companies in importing medicines and medical products into the UK.

The Government recognises the vital importance of medicines and medical products, including insulin, and 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.

The Government has agreed that medicines and medical products will be prioritised on these alternative routes to ensure that the flow of all these products will continue unimpeded after 29 March 2019.

In August 2018, the Department asked suppliers to confirm arrangements in respect of prescription-only and pharmacy medicines that come from or via the EU/EEEA. Company responses have provided the Department with an indication of industry’s ability and preparedness to stockpile six weeks’ worth of additional supply of each of the in-scope medicines in the UK ahead of 29 March 2019.

Since then, we have continued to receive very good engagement and are working closely with industry on a product-by-product basis. Companies share our aims of ensuring continuity of medicines supply for patients is maintained and able to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU exit.

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