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Almost 20% of medicine suppliers yet to build up stockpiles ahead of a no-deal Brexit

A shortage of medicine could have a ’significant impact’ on patients, the BMA has warned after Government figures showed nearly a fifth of medicine suppliers have yet to build up a six-week stockpile in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a letter to adult social care providers, Jonathan Marron, the director general of community and social care at the Department of Health and Social Care, said 96% of medicine suppliers have responded to the Government’s request for no-deal preparation plans.

The Government in June asked medicine suppliers for their plans and recommended they build up a six-week medicine stockpile’ above business as usual inventory.’

Mr Marron said 82% of products now have a six-week stockpile in place, adding: ’These numbers are constantly rising and will do so until 31 October 2019, providing an ever-clearer picture and greater levels of assurance.’

But despite Mr Marron’s assurances, Dr Richard Vaultrey, chair of the BMA GP Committee, said: ’The very fact that manufacturers are being asked to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines underlines the graveness of the situation the NHS faces if we leave without a deal.

’While we hope that pharmaceutical companies are preparing for no-deal — as the Government seems intent on reassuring us — it is difficult for doctors to judge if this is the case as we are not privy to specific arrangements.

’And though these figures may show progress, worryingly they indicate that, with two weeks until the Brexit deadline, one in five suppliers are not yet ready — which could have a significant impact on patients.’

The DHSC recently awarded logistics contracts for its £25m express freight service to ensure medicines and medical products can be transported across the UK within 24 to 48 hours.

Additionally, the DHSC said it has increased its capacity to manage potential disruption to supply by launching the National Supply Disruption Response unit to support the health and social care sector.

It follows the news that the Government has ordered an extra 400,000 flu vaccines to prevent shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit