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Leaked no-deal Brexit document forecasts widespread shortages

Identifies risk of medicine shortages

Brexit

A leaked government document has revealed the potential risks of a no-deal Brexit, with warnings of delays and shortages of goods coming across the British Channel. 

The leaked report,codenamed ‘Operation Yellowhammer’, details the government project intended to aid in the preparation for a no-deal Brexit. Published in The Sunday Times, it identifies that shortages in food, fuel and medicine are to be expected, with disruption potentially continuing for months following the event of a no-deal.

According to the document, the ‘worst-case flow rate’ for medicines and medical supplies ‘could be as low as 40% on day one of no-deal’. The event of a no-deal Brexit is also expected to have longer-lasting effects, with the report forecasting ‘significant disruption lasting up to six months’.

The disruption is due primarily to the supply chains for medicines and medical supplies relying on the short straits (the main Channel crossings). According to the report, this ‘makes them particularly vulnerable to severe delays’, as three-quarters of medicines enter the UK via this route. It also identified the issues with stockpiling medicines, as certain medical products cannot be stockpiled due to short shelf lives.

The report also identified the risks of potential disruptions to the supply of medicines for veterinary use, which the report said ‘would reduce our ability to prevent and control disease outbreaks, with potential harm to animal health and welfare, the environment and wider food safety and availability, as well as, in the case of zoonotic diseases, posing a risk to human health’.

The leaked report follows increased no-deal Brexit planning from the government. Last week, the government announced that it will set up an ‘express freight service’ to aid inthe delivery of medicines and medical products tothe country in the event of a no-deal. The service will be able to deliver small parcels of medicines on a 24-hour basis and larger containments on a two-to-four-day basis. These preparations, combined with this leaked report, demonstrate the increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, with EU heavy-weight Germany calling a no-deal ‘highly likely’.

According to the leaked report, the public and businesses are still unprepared for a no-deal, with contingency planning nowherenear comprehensive. According to The Times, a senior Whitehall source said ‘this is not Project Fear – this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case’.

The UK life sciences and pharmaceutical industries have consistently maintained that a no-deal Brexit would be detrimental to patients and business, and could have a negative effects on the supply of medicines and future drug research and collaboration with the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, ahead of a G7 summit this week to renew Brexit talks. Johnson has also faced increasing pressure to recall parliament early to allow for debates on Brexit, following the leak.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

19th August 2019

From: Healthcare

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