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Suspending parliament to push a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for patients

Health unions have issued a joint statement calling for the Government to take a no-deal Brexit off the table.



Hospital curtain intensive care

Suspending Parliament will give MPs just weeks to make any final preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Pushing through a no-deal Brexit could lead to a shortage of “life-saving” medication and ultimately be catastrophic for patients, health leaders have warned.

In a move that many claim is to push through a no-deal agenda, yesterday Boris Johnson announced a prologue of Parliament until the 14th of October 2019 – giving MPs just weeks to make any final preparations for a no-deal Brexit.


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Medical Association (BMA) are among eleven organisations to join forces to issue the warning.

‘Fatal for patients’.

In a joint statement calling for the Government to take a no-deal Brexit off the table, they warn; “A no-deal could cause significant disruption to the supply of medicine, lasting up to six months. Many medicines, including life-saving agents for cancer diagnosis and therapy, cannot be stockpiled and, for those that can, stockpiles could run out.

“These kinds of shortages and delays can be fatal. No responsible government should take that risk.”

Adding; “In the event of a no-deal, tens of thousands of NHS and care workers from the EU would be left in limbo, intensifying the largest staffing crisis in the service’s history.

“Ministers must unequivocally guarantee the right of European health and care staff to continue to live and work in the UK.

“Treasury assessments show that a no-deal scenario would shrink our economy by £90 billion, reducing the money available for the NHS and other vital public services.

“After a decade of austerity, health and social care budgets across the country are under immense pressure.

“With waiting times rising, operations being cancelled and yet another winter crisis looming, the health service cannot weather a long-term economic shock,” said the statement.

‘We are doing everything to prepare for Brexit’.

A Government spokesman said: “As part of a responsible Government, the department is doing everything appropriate to prepare for Brexit.

“We want to reassure patients that we should be fully prepared for leaving on October 31 whatever the circumstances.

“We are taking all appropriate steps, meaning our plans should ensure the supply of medicines and medical products remains uninterrupted when we leave the EU.

“And we have been crystal clear that we want our hard-working EU staff to stay in the UK and continue to perform vital roles across the NHS and social care sector.”

Health Politics

Yellowhammer ‘no-deal’ document predicts a shortage of medicines, staff and food

Health unions previously warned that a no-deal Brexit could h”catastrophic” consequences for patients. 



Medicines on Pharmacy Shelf

Yellowhammer predicts a shortage of medicines, staff, and food alongside increased costs for health and social care providers.

Published today, the previously confidential and redacted Yellowhammer document outlines a series of “reasonable worst-case assumptions” on the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the UK.

The document reveals that up to three-quarters of medicines and medical supplies, especially those with short shelf lives will become vulnerable to “severe extended delays”.


The “already fragile” social care sector would face serious staffing shortages, increased operational costs and inflation could put the financial viability of care companies at risk.

British pensioners, workers, travels, and students in EU countries will be required to make additional arrangements to access healthcare – this could include demonstrating residency or joining health insurance and social security schemes. The document warns that “there is a risk of disruption for patients” and some may face “substantial costs”.

Finally, there is likely to be a shortage of fresh food due to limitations with supply chains alongside expected panic buying.

Earlier this month, health unions issued a joint statement calling for the Government to take a no-deal Brexit off the table, warning that crashing out without a deal could have “catastrophic” consequences for patients.

Devastating impact.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Council Chair for the British Medical Association (BMA), said: “This alarming document reinforces the BMA’s stark warnings about the devastating impact a ‘no deal’ Brexit could have, and vindicates those doctors who have had the courage to speak out on the risks that crashing out of the EU without a deal poses to the NHS, patients and the wider health of the UK.

“Here we see in black and white the Government warning of disruption to vital medicine supplies, a higher risk of disease outbreaks due to veterinary medicine supply issues, and UK pensioners in the EU being unable to access healthcare from 1 November if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

“As we outlined just last week, the Government also recognises how the timing of our exit will be key – coinciding with the beginning of winter, when the NHS experiences its most difficult period, a ‘no deal’ risks pushing health services to the brink.

“The warnings around social care providers folding within months of Brexit day are particularly concerning, having a huge impact on our most vulnerable patients and the wider health service in the depths of winter.

“Given what’s at stake, this document underlines why the Government needs to entirely rule out ‘no deal’ and give the public a final say on Brexit.”

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Health Politics

A no-deal Brexit would ‘bring chaos to the NHS’, warns UNISON

The “uncertainty and chaos” caused by a no-deal Brexit would put patients and staff at risk.

Chloe Dawson



No Deal Brexit UNISON

The “uncertainty and chaos” of a no-deal Brexit could push an already under pressure NHS over the edge.

Unison has warned that the “uncertainty and chaos” caused by a no-deal Brexit would put patients and staff at risk.

Following a joint statement from healthcare unions last week, the union echoed concerned about severe shortages of drugs and medical equipment as well as the possibility of cancelled operations and increased waiting times.


Speaking ahead of the opening of the 151st Trades Union Congress in Brighton, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “No responsible politician working for the good of the country would allow the NHS to plunge into the no-deal abyss. The Prime Minister must ditch his do-or-die bluster, respect the law by asking the EU for an extension and then let the country decide its future in a general election.

“The chaos and uncertainty a no-deal Brexit would bring could push an already under-pressure NHS over the edge. And patients will be the biggest losers.”

Dave Prentis was speaking as UNISON staged a stunt with health workers on Brighton seafront to highlight the risks to the NHS of a no-deal Brexit.

“Although the bill to prevent no deal passed another hurdle in the Lords last week, we’re not out of the woods. The threat remains when we’re up against a Prime Minister eager to break every convention, rule and promise in the book.

“A no deal risks severe shortages of drugs and vital medical equipment, with the potential for cancelled operations and appointments. Increased waiting times will further stretch public confidence in the NHS.

“Brexit hasn’t just stopped potential EU recruits coming here to join the NHS, it’s also convinced those already working here that they’re better off elsewhere.

“No deal risks wrecking the fragile social care sector that’s reliant on EU nationals. If care collapses, A&E departments will be inundated and elderly patients won’t be able to leave hospital as they’ve nowhere to go.

“If freedom of movement ends, the staffing headache suffered by NHS trusts countrywide becomes a full-blown migraine attack. Many thousands of EU nationals have yet to apply for settled status and it’s anyone’s guess what that means for their jobs.

“The catalogue of logistical nightmares goes on. The NHS serves more than 140 million meals to patients every year, with much of the food imported from Europe.

“Possible fuel shortages could have a severe impact on 6,500 emergency ambulances and their crews operating countrywide, especially those in areas with lorries queuing out of the ports.

“But the real tragedy is that the millions spent on no-deal Brexit preparations could have been invested in rebuilding communities. Instead, real issues affecting people’s lives are being ignored – to the nation’s eternal shame.”

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