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GPs warned not to stockpile medical goods or write longer prescriptions due to Brexit

There is still no need for GPs to stockpile medicines, vaccines, medical devices or clinical consumables ahead of Brexit, the Government has said.

In a letter circulated to GPs by NHS England and CCGs, health secretary Matt Hancock said any overordering would be ‘investigated and followed up’.

The letter also said that GPs should not be writing longer-duration prescriptions for patients, due to any Brexit concerns.

This was a reiteration of advice given in August, and comes as Prime Minister Theresa May delayed a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal her Government has negotiated with the EU yesterday.

Mr Hancock’s letter said that in the ‘unlikely’ event of a no-deal Brexit come March, the Government will have contingency plans in place for the continued trading of medicines and medical products.

The letter said: ‘UK health and social care providers – including hospitals, care homes, GPs and community pharmacies – should not stockpile additional medicines beyond their business as usual stock levels. There is also no need for clinicians to write longer prescriptions.

‘Local stockpiling by UK health and social care providers is unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which would put patient care at risk.’

He added that Public Health England officials were ‘leading a separate programme to ensure the continuity of supply for centrally-procured vaccines and other products that are distributed to the NHS for the UK National Immunisation Programme or used for urgent public health use’.

The letter also urged employers to encourage their employees from EU countries to register via the new ‘settlement scheme’ for EU citizens in the UK, and consider paying the related £65 charge on their employees’ behalf.

Until 21 December, NHS workers from the EU are currently able to take part in a pilot of the settlement scheme registration process that is expected to open to the general public in early 2019.

Mr Hancock’s letter said: ‘There is no obligation for EU nationals to register early: however, it is an opportunity for many to get this certainty earlier, and I would strongly encourage you to publicise this to your health and care staff who are EU nationals.’