The Government is chartering a plane to ferry medicines into the UK in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that health secretary Matt Hancock has chartered the plane to transport medicines to the UK as part of a range of contingency plans in case there is no deal with the EU regarding the UK’s exit from the union.
The plane was reported in the Huffington Post to have been chartered to fly medicines from Maastricht in The Netherlands to an airport in the UK.
A DHSC spokesperson said: ‘As part of our extensive range of no-deal contingency plans, I can confirm that we have chartered air freight capacity to support the continued supply of medical products.’
The move comes as Government laid out a new batch of plans for a no-deal scenario, including reserving ferry space for supplies and putting 3,500 armed personnel on standby to deal with any disruption.
Officials have linked the possibility of a medicines shortage to a ‘no deal’ Brexit. A leaked DHSC memo obtained by the Times earlier this month indicated that ministers would instruct pharmacists to alter prescriptions and supply patients with alternative medicines without consulting a GP first in the event of medicine shortages.
GPs were also told by the health secretary, in a letter circulated by NHS England and CCGs, not to stockpile medicines and that any over-ordering would be ‘investigated and followed up’. GPs have also been told that they should not be writing longer-duration prescriptions for patients due to Brexit concerns.
The implications of a no-deal Brexit on GP workforce are also causing concern
Under current plans, people immigrating to the UK from the EU will have to meet the requirements of a ‘skills-based’ system, and pass a ‘British values test’ as well as tougher English language demands.
GPs from the EU will have no preferential treatment compared with GPs from anywhere overseas, with the BMA warning the policy could ‘create chaos in the NHS’ and have a ‘huge knock-on effect’ on general practice.
The health secretary also admitted to the House of Commons Health Committee in October that extra costs that the NHS could face from paying for visas to bring in staff from the EU after Brexit have not been assessed.